Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

2/22/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Welfare pays better than minimum wage.

You have a choice. You may get up, drink your coffee, commute to work, and do your daily grind, dutifully paying your taxes all the way, or you can make it go away with a trip to you local welfare office. Which do you choose? A new report suggests why so many Americans are choosing the latter.

Unless the political will to change develops, the problem will become worse.

Unless the political will to change develops, the problem will become worse.


By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (

2/22/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: welfare, minimum wage, government spending, reform

PHILADELPHIA, PA (Catholic Online) - Welfare has a number of people fuming. We spend just over a trillion dollars each year in public welfare assistance. That's over three thousand dollars per year for every American. Consider that half of all Americans pay no taxes, and your bill becomes about 6 grand.

That's right. The first six thousand dollars you earn goes to pay for those who are not working.

Of course, nobody in a country as rich as ours should begrudge the poor a safety net, after all, aren't many of us just one disaster away from it ourselves? Yet what happens when the safety net becomes a hammock?

Those were the words used by Matt Brouillette, from the Commonwealth Foundation, a government watchdog group. Brouillette was interviewed by CBS 21 News reporter Chris Papst as part of his investigation into just how much welfare a person can get.

Papst launched his investigation after a coworker curiously turned down a raise. His coworker, Kristina Cogan, was a single mom of two who explained that accepting the raise would impact her government benefits, so she refused the raise.

This means that you and I, as taxpayers, must continue paying her bills.

Cogan needed the help at the time. Earning just $19,000 per year, she was  a recently divorced mom with two kids to support. She explained that walking into the welfare office was scary, but after awhile it became comfortable.

"You do what you have to do as a single mom," she told Papst. She also added this comment: "If you're going to get something for free, are you going to work for it? It kind of like sucks you in. They [welfare recipients] feel like they are hopeless. They feel like they have no alternative."

Cogan is largely correct. People do have that feeling, but why?

A minimum wage earner can work for 40 hours per week and earn a poverty-level wage with little hope of advancement. There's barely enough money to get by from month to month. There's no savings, no decent used car, no living alone. It's roommates and beat-up vehicles, and school will only mean massive student debt without guarantee of a job to pay it off later.

This is a very bleak prospect for the minimum wage workforce, and it's why there is a growing movement to increase that wage. Despite the strident arguments that raising the minimum wage would harm the economy, we might find it to be the lesser of two evils.

That's because the easy way out for many of those workers is welfare. A single trip to the welfare office can make a lot of worries just melt away. According to Papst, Cogan was eligible for as much as $81,000 in public assistance. If she took advantage of all of it, she would be solidly placed in the middle class, without lifting a finger.

Eventually, many minimum wage workers do find the welfare office. For most it's food stamps and a few other smaller programs, perhaps some tuition assistance so they can someday break out of the bottom tier. For others however, it is a way of life.

We have all heard the horror stories about those whose only job is to work the system. Yes, they're out there too.

So what's the plan? Unfortunately, there is none. Just keep feeding the masses bread and circuses.

"This isn't the American dream," Brouillette told Papst. "When there are taxpayer funded programs that could give you the equivalent lifestyle of a middle-class family, why would you have an incentive to go to work?"

The political will isn't there to change the system. Politicians often shy away from talk of cutting benefits or changing the way they are paid for fear of retaliation at the ballot box. The attack ads virtually write themselves.

However, we know as a nation that we need more people working, and paying taxes, if we are to avoid economic meltdown - which admittedly, in an economy probably kept afloat with fiat currency, could already be upon us.

As a nation, we must do a number of things we will not like to reform the system. We do need to raise the minimum wage enough so that people who consider welfare will see a net loss rather than a net gain. It is cheaper to pay a worker minimum wage and collect taxes, even if it's just a few dollars, than to pay out up to $81,000 each year in free benefits.

We must open a path forward, insisting that welfare recipients who are able, attend school, find work, or do something to advance themselves. We need to ensure that we facilitate these positive choices with affordable education, career training, and job placement where appropriate. We do have such programs in most states. However, we need to add to them incentives to make progress, which would include sanctions for those who prefer to remain idle. Those who refuse to make progress should be see benefits reduced to an absolute minimum.

We cannot long survive in a nation that lets stagnant wages lose purchasing power to inflation, then provides welfare that surpasses the minimum wage. To continue to do so is to continue destroying America.

Pabst put together a list of figures for a person in Cogan's circumstances. They reveal just how much is available to a single mother of two, earning $19,000. The total exceeds $81,000 in possible benefits. They are specific to Pennsylvania. Other states may have lower or even higher figures based on how generous their programs are.

Assistance Totals: Single Mom of two making $19,000

Department of Welfare
- LIHEAP: $400
- Child Care: $14,976
- Medical Assistance: $6,045 (includes Health Department and SCHIP)
- Food $6,028 (SNAP, WIC: average $52.32 per person, school meal programs, Dept of Ag)

- Housing Voucher: $7,148

Pennsylvania Utility Commission
- Lifeline: landline ($30 for instillation and $200 interest free loan/yr) and cell phone with 200 min and 250 text and email ($480/yr)
- PA Weatherization Assistance Program: Ave. $6,500/per household

Department of Agriculture
- Farmers Market Nutritional Program $20

Department of Education lunch programs
- National School Lunch Program ($5/day)
- School Breakfast Program ($3/day)
- Child and Adult Care Food Program ($5/day)
- After School Snack Program ($2/day)
- Summer Food Services Program ($5/day)
- At-Risk Afterschool Meals Program ($5/day)

Department of Health
- Healthy Woman Program (free clinical breast examination, cervical cancer screenings, mammogram, pelvic examination, pap smear and follow up diagnostics to low income women): $1,245
- Bureau of Community Health Immunization Program

Department of Insurance
- SCHIP (included in Medical Assistance)

Legal Services Corporation
- 2010 federal budget $420,000,000, assisted 2.3 million people in 2011: $182.61/person @ LSC.GOV

Tax Breaks
- Earned income tax credit: $4,800
- Additional Child Tax Credit: $2000
- Withholdings return on $0 taxable income: $1900

- Pell Grant: Maximum $5,500
- Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant: Grants up to $4,000 per year. - Students who have been awarded a Federal Pell Grant receive priority.
- National SMART Grant: Maximum $4,000 (National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant: students in third or fourth year of college.)
- Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant: Max: $4,000 to be a teacher.

Department of Education and Office of Childhood Development in DPW
- Head Start: $6,700 per child/2009 in PA per HHS numbers
- Early Head Start: $6,700 per child/2009 in PA per HHS numbers


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.


More Politics & Policy

False ambassador has been working in government affairs for five months Watch

Image of Brett McGurk (C-Span).


For five months, an Obama administration official falsely presented himself as an official U.S. ambassador.  LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Brett McGurk, who is a deputy special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition serving under General John Allen, was ... continue reading

Will slow and steady win presidential race? Bernie matches Hillary with far smaller donations Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Longtime - if recently troubled political warhorse Hillary Clinton and avowed socialist Bernie Sanders are currently duking it out for the lead in the Democratic Presidential Race of 2016. Something highly significant has emerged in the contest ... the poor, ... continue reading

Donald Trump meets with 40 religious leaders and prays Watch

Image of Donald Trump meets religious leaders inside the Trump Tower.


Forty religious leaders and pastors met with presidential candidate Donald Trump in his Trump Tower office Monday afternoon. Trump shared a few minutes of prayer with the religious leaders, some of whom are noted televangelists. LOS ANGELES, CA  (Catholic Online) ... continue reading

DOUBLE DIPPING? Hillary Clinton aide paid by consulting firm to while also with State department Watch

Image of Some sources agreed to describe Huma Abedin's work for Teneo on the New York event, along with her subsequent work at the State Department for a Teneo-connected event in Ireland four months later in December.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There are new revelations that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton's confidante, was paid both by the State department alongside the private consulting firm Teneo Holdings. Recent newspaper reports say Abedin staged a star-studded reception that included her boss' ... continue reading

Handing hat to Obama, Russia begins to do America's job at the UN Watch

Image of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama dueled verbally at UN headquarters in New York, debating the course of action the world should take in Syria.

By David Drudge, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Theater of the Absurd continues at the United Nations headquarters in New York as President Obama and Vladimir Putin recite harsh lines at one another over strategy in Syria. Ironically, it is Putin, not Obama, who is calling for UN action against the Islamic ... continue reading

Trump claims his tax reform could slash taxes for the overly-wealthy and the overly-poor alike Watch

Image of Donald Trump announced plans to cut taxes.

By Kenya Sinclair (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

During a press conference at Trump Tower on Monday, Donald Trump announced plans to drastically cut income taxes for Americans across the board. He claims there will be no wiggle room for Wall Street to squeeze out of. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - CNN reported ... continue reading

First John Boehner, now Mitch McConnell pushed to resign as Senate Majority Leader by Republicans Watch

Image of Louisiana GOP Chairman Roger Villere has a long laundry list of what has caused his fellow Republicans to rally for McConnell's ouster.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There's a major shakeup going on among Republicans in Washington. Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation last week and will be stepping down in late October. Now, there is a major push among the GOP for Mitch McConnell to resign as Senate majority ... continue reading

House Speaker John Boehner to resign from Congress Watch

Image of John Boehner made the announcement looking rehearsed and confident. He recalled a moment alone with Pope Francis who had asked the speaker to pray for him.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Following much intense pressure from his fellow conservatives, House Speaker John Boehner has announced his resignation. He will be stepping down at the end of October. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Boehner, first elected to Congress in 1990, made the ... continue reading

U.S. Congressman petitions to nominate Pope Francis for a Nobel Peace Prize Watch

Image of Pope Francis looking upon the statue of Junipero Serra in the Capitol.


Californian Democratic Representative, Adam Schiff, distributed a letter ahead of the Pope's visit to Congress, citing the pontiff's work as something worthy of global honor, a Nobel Peace Prize. HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA (Catholic Online) -  The Congressman included ... continue reading

Obama's Islamic State Global Coalition Envoy steps down Watch

Image of Retired general John Allen.


The man that President Barack Obama personally picked to build the war effort against the Islamic State will be stepping down as the envoy to the global coalition this fall. At the moment, the White House is looking for a replacement to be the next war czar to help ... continue reading

All Politics & Policy News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for October 4th, 2015 Image

St. Francis of Assisi
October 4: Founder of the Franciscan Order, born at Assisi in Umbria, in ... Read More