Marriage counselors instruct a class in Oklahoma

The law of unintended consequences applies to most big government schemes, but never more than when well-intended ideas are tucked deep within massive, comprehensive “reform” bills so prohibitively thick they guarantee that no one, including the president signing them – really knows what’s inside.

That is true for the reform bill Bill Clinton signed in 1996 to “end of welfare as we know it” by moving assistance from an entitlement to a discretionary state-administered program with virtually no federal oversight.

Tucked deep inside the 1996 legislation was language laying out the purpose of the reform measure, “to end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work —and marriage.”

Liz Schott of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities is a so-called “policy wonk” who says, “I don’t think anyone really paid attention in 1996. When I read draft legislation—there’s all this ‘whereas’ stuff at the front, and this preamble language, and that’s just ‘blah, blah, blah.’”

Under the law, the federal government gives each of the fifty states a portion of $16.5 billion in the form of an annual block grant available to use as the state sees fit.

And at least one state, Oklahoma, uses a large portion of it on marriage counseling sessions where licensed therapists teach couples about communication and sensuous touch.

What’s more, the couples are unaware that the sessions are government-funded welfare.

“A tiny chunk of what we spend on welfare is spent on what people think of when they think of welfare,” says DeVon Douglass, policy analyst with the Oklahoma Policy Institute.

If the reform law had resulted in a decrease in poverty, it would be hailed as a resounding success, but instead, 17 percent of Oklahoma families are still living on less than $21,000 a year, the designated poverty line.

And while $70 million have been spent on the marriage classes, divorce rates and single-parent families have skyrocketed.

It may well be the government knows as little about marriage counseling as it does about running veteran’s hospitals.

Want to see what your state is spending welfare money on? You might be surprised and a little angry.

Check it out with this tool here.

Source: WVTF



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