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What happens when you cut too deep into welfare

By Ezra Klein,

Arizona is one of 16 states that have tried to balance their budgets by cutting welfare caseloads. Jason DeParle reports on the results:

The poor people who were dropped from cash assistance here, mostly single mothers, talk with surprising openness about the desperate, and sometimes illegal, ways they make ends meet. They have sold food stamps, sold blood, skipped meals, shoplifted, doubled up with friends, scavenged trash bins for bottles and cans and returned to relationships with violent partners — all with children in tow.

Many see the falling caseloads in the TANF program as a policy success. But if the purpose of welfare is to help the poor, then the fact that it is helping so few of the poor during a deep recession is evidence of policy failure, not policy success. The Center of Budget has more.

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