Following is the text of President Carter's statement yesterday in Plains, Ga., introducing his welfare proposals.
As I pledged during my campaign for the presidency, I am today asking Congress to totally scrap our existing welfare system and to replace it with a program for better jobs and which will provide job opportunities for those able to work in a simplified uniform cash assistance program for those who are unable to work due to disability, age or family circumstances.
In May, I think May 1, after almost four months of intensive study, I said the welfare system was worse than I had expected and I stand by that conclusion.
Each of the individual programs has a prime purpose and serves many needy people. But, taken as a whole, the system is neither rational nor is it fair, and the welfare system is antiwork and antifamily. It is unfair to the poor and wasteful of taxpayers' dollars.
The defects of the current system are very clear. First of all, it treats people differently who have similar needs, and eligibility requirements vary for each separate program. Second, it creates exaggerated differences in benefits based on where people live. Third, it encourages the breakup of families. In most cases two-parent families are not eligible for cash assistance and a working father can most often increase his family's income by leaving home. It also discourages work. In one mid-western state, for example, a father who leaves partime employment paying $2,400 a year and goes to a full-time job paying $4,800 a year, can actually lose more than $1,250.
At the same time, well-intentioned efforts to find jobs for current recipients of welfare payments have floundered and been ineffective.
Finally, the complexity of current programs and regulations tends to waste, fraud, red tape and error. HEW has recently discovered even government employees unlawfully receiving benefits on several different communities.
There is no perfect solution for these difficult problems, but it is time to begin. The welfare system is too hopeless to be cured by minor modifications. We must make a complete and clean break with the past.
The program that I propose today to the Congress does just that. It will provide jobs for those who need work, a work bonus for those who do work but whose incomes are inadequate to support their family. It provides income support for those who are able to work part-time or who are unable to work due to age or physical disability, or who need to care for little children 6 years of age or younger. It provides an earned income tax credit to strengthen work incentives an to provide tax relief for working families who have been hard hit by payroll tax increases.
If enacted by the Congress, this new program will have major benefits. It will significantly reduce the number of people who rely on welfare payments primarily by doubling the number of single-parent families who are supported primarily through work. Twice as many single-parent families will now be supported by work. It will insure that work will always be more profitable than welfare, and that a private job or public job not supported by the federal government will always bring in more income than a special job created with federal funds. It will combine effective work requirements, strong incentives, improved private sector placement services and the creation of 1.4 million jobs.
Those who can work will work and every family with a full-time worker will have an income substantially above the poverty line for the first time.
This program will provide increased benefits and more sensitive treatment to those in need. It will provide simplicity by consolidating the current assistance program(s), all of which have different eligibility programs.
This program will provide strong incentives to keep families together rather than tearing families apart and offering the dignity of useful work to the heads of families.
This program will reduce fraud and error and accelerate efforts to assure that deserting fathers meet their obligations to their families.
This program will also give substantal financial relief, $2 billion to hard-pressed state and local taxpayers.
In my May 2, 1977, statement, I established as a goal that the new reform system involve no higher initial cost than the present system by making the new program more rational and efficient. Therefore, Secretary Califano, who is here on the stage with me, outlined a tentative no-cost plan which embodied the major reforms we are seeking. It was a good plan.
After careful consultation with state and local leaders, members of Congress and many other interested persons throughout the country, we have now provided $2.8 billion in added benefits.
These additional funds will be used to make important improvements in our original plan, increased financial relief, as I have already outlined, for local and state governments, particularly those who have borne a heavy financial burden in the past. Incentives which strengthen family ties have also been added. A deduction for child care will permit and encourage single parents to take work which will lift them out of poverty.
We have added up to 300,000 additional jobs, part-time jobs, for single-parent families with school children. If adequate day care is available, such parents will be expected to take full-time jobs. And the earned income tax credit for working families administered through the revenue system has been expanded to provide tax relief for many who receive no income assistance who work and who have been hard hit by payroll tax increases.
So with these imporvements the program will help turn the low-income Americans away from welfare dependence with a system that is fairly and fundamentally based on work for those who can and should work.
This program for better jobs and income stresses a fundamental Admerican commitment to work, strengthens our family, respects the less advantaged in our society and makes a far more efficient and effective use of our hard earned tax dollars.
I would like to also say the House of representatives yesterday. Speak Tip O'Neill, announced that a special welfare committee will be set up to implement the legislative work on this program for better jobs and income. CAPTION: Graph 1, 1976 FEDERAL, STATE AND LOCAL EXPENDITURES ON THREE MAJOR WELFARE PROGRAMS, The Washington Post; Graph 2, PROFILE OF AFDC (AID TO FAMILIES WITH DEPENDENT CHILDREN) RECIPIENTS, AFDC is the largest current welfare program with on average number of monthly recipients around 11 million. The Washington Post; Graph 3, PROJECT 1978 FEDERAL EXPENDITURES FOR MAJOR WELFARE PROGRAMS (TOTAL: $25.8 MILLION), The Washington Post