Welfare revisions ranging from guaranteed jobs to a cash assistance program of rall poor persons are among the options for a Carter administration proposal being considerred by the Department of Health. Education and Welfare.
A welfare task force yesterday presented four types of proposals to an HEW consulting group, which appeared to be divided over a number of basic issues in welfare reform. The document was of welfare revisions being considered at President Carter's instructions.
The four plans vary widely in cost - ranging from $6 billion to $8 billion for the cheapest to between $30 billion and $40 billion for the most expensive, based on costs in the 1974 fiscal year budget.
One of them is expected to become the basis of a welfare system overhaul to be presented by May 1 to President Carter, who is scheduled to send his recommendations to Congress later this year.
There were no public indications yesterday which path the HEW task force and secretary Joseph A. Califano Jr. would choose.
Sources familiar with the studies under way, however, said they sensed a consensus was building around a form of cash assistance program that would replace several of the existing welfare grant systems. It is similar to, although broader than, the old negative income tax concept that underlay the Nixon administration's aborted family assistance plan.
Under the plan defined yesterday, the income floor for a family of four would be about $4,350, or 75 per cent of the current poverty level income. That is neither as high as welfare rights groups would want nor as low as many members of Congress have favored in the past.
That plan would replace such existing welfare programs as aid to families with dependent children, food stamps, supplemental security income, and a low-income housing supplement.
he cash assistance would be available to all types of low-income households, including single individuals and couples with children. It would have cost between $6 billion and $8 billion in 1974, the fiscal year used by the task force for comparative purposes.
It would also provide some public service jobs for those recipients who are expected to work but are unable to find private employment. There is a difference of opinion in the task force and the consulting group over whether it should include a mandatory work requirement for such recipients.
Of the other proposals suggested yesterday, the most expensive, costing more than $30 billion, would grantee jobs - in the public sector if neccessary - to a member of all families with children. There would still be cash assistance through an AFDC program, financed by the federal government, to families with children where no one is capable of working.
A third suggestion, known as the "incremental" approach, would make a few basic changes in existing programs, but would add a housing allowance similar to the current food stamps. It is designed to assure a basic level of food and housing, underwriting both to the point that no family would have to spend more than 25 per cent of its cash income for housing and no more than 30 per cent of it for food.
The fourth plan, using tax credits, job programs, and cash assistance, is tailored to three specific types of the poor - the "working poor," whose wages are insufficient; the unemployed who expect to work if jobs are available; and the hard-core welfare recipients who cannot be expected to work.
The consulting group which received these plans yesterday appeared to be divided over some of the basic reform issues, including work requirements and fiscal relief for states, cities and counties. Those are fundamental issues which have been at the core of welfare reform disputes for the past decade.
Califano indicated dissatisfaction with the work requirements in the present work incentive program, under which previous administrative have attempted to require welfare mothers to take jobs. The program doesn't provide "meaningful" jobs or training, he said.
Alair Townsend, representing the House Budget Committee, said the program could not be conditioned on providing "meaningful jobs."
"There are a lot of people in this country who don't have meaningful jobs, she said.