Welfare “Reform” Might Be the Next Big Republican Push

Monica Winston adjusts to her tent in a tent city set up in San Diego. A Hepatitis A outbreak is one of the reasons the tent city was created.John Gastaldo via ZUMA

Fight disinformation: Sign up for the free Mother Jones Daily newsletter and follow the news that matters.

In theory, the budget reconciliation process was intended to be used for passing budgets. But you only get one of them per year, and Republicans used reconciliation in 2017 for health care and in 2018 for taxes. That’s why they’re now stuck needing some Democratic votes for a bipartisan budget resolution. But what about next year? Will Republicans use the 2019 reconciliation process for the 2019 budget, or will they try to pass a two-year budget resolution that would free up reconciliation for something else? Yuval Levin has some ideas:

Both President Trump and Speaker Ryan have talked at various points lately about wanting to take up welfare reform….This question of whether there will be a 2019 reconciliation bill is crucial to the question of the 2018 Republican agenda because it would establish the boundaries of the possible. If they do pass a reconciliation bill, Republicans would probably use it to create room for a party-line welfare-reform effort. This would likely amount to a proposal for devolving funding and design flexibility over some of the major federal welfare programs to the states while attaching some work requirements to most of them.

I agree. Levin is a little surprised that with tax reform out of the way, Republicans seem at sea about what to do next. I’m less surprised, since the Republican Party has basically been the anti-tax party for years, with little more truly propelling them forward. But welfare “reform” could be the ticket. From Donald Trump’s viewpoint, it helps him with his working-class white base, which has always hated welfare because they think it’s just free money for lazy black people. From the viewpoint of fiscal conservatives who aren’t especially energized by racial animus, it’s a way of cutting spending. And for the neocon wing, perhaps it’s a way of freeing up some dollars for the military. Like tax reform—and unlike health care—it’s something that has a chance of bringing together every wing of the party.

Will Republicans do this? Like Levin, I don’t know. If Democrats make the budget process painful and refuse to pass a two-year resolution, Republicans might surrender and just use next year’s budget reconciliation process for the budget. But here’s a prediction: if Republicans do decide to go after welfare, they’ll target the parts of it that are disproportionately used by blacks and Hispanics. I don’t know what those are, but I’ll check into it later and come up with a more specific prediction.

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

LET’S TALK ABOUT OPTIMISM FOR A CHANGE

Democracy and journalism are in crisis mode—and have been for a while. So how about doing something different?

Mother Jones did. We just merged with the Center for Investigative Reporting, bringing the radio show Reveal, the documentary film team CIR Studios, and Mother Jones together as one bigger, bolder investigative journalism nonprofit.

And this is the first time we’re asking you to support the new organization we’re building. In “Less Dreading, More Doing,” we lay it all out for you: why we merged, how we’re stronger together, why we’re optimistic about the work ahead, and why we need to raise the First $500,000 in online donations by June 22.

It won’t be easy. There are many exciting new things to share with you, but spoiler: Wiggle room in our budget is not among them. We can’t afford missing these goals. We need this to be a big one. Falling flat would be utterly devastating right now.

A First $500,000 donation of $500, $50, or $5 would mean the world to us—a signal that you believe in the power of independent investigative reporting like we do. And whether you can pitch in or not, we have a free Strengthen Journalism sticker for you so you can help us spread the word and make the most of this huge moment.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate