A congressman from Ohio is set to introduce legislation that would consolidate 92 federal welfare programs into roughly a dozen, affecting about $1 trillion in government payouts and related administrative costs.
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio), the Republican who replaced former House Speaker John Boehner in Ohio’s 8th District, said there is no need for so many welfare programs and so much duplication in welfare administration.
“Things are politically sensitive so it’s hard to overcome the inertia of keeping things the way they are.”
Speaking exclusively to LifeZette about his proposed bill, Davidson said the large number of welfare programs was an oddity he noticed when he was first elected to the House of Representatives in June, in a special election to replace Boehner.
He then went to work on legislation to consolidate the bills, modeling the work on the military’s commission to close and consolidate bases. Davidson’s bill even has a familiar name: the Welfare Benefit Reform and Alignment Commission, or Welfare BRAC. Congress established the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission (Defense BRAC) in 2005 to consolidate military bases.
His Welfare BRAC panels will advise Congress on what programs can be consolidated, without cutting into the benefits. Davidson figures that billions could be saved in “huge” administrative costs, but the proposal has not be scored yet by the Congressional Budget Office.
“Things are politically sensitive so it’s hard to overcome the inertia of keeping things the way they are,” Davidson told LifeZette Tuesday. “The goal isn’t to cut funding to [welfare].”
Yet Davidson supports transitioning people away from welfare. The text of the bill stresses that “means-tested welfare programs increase employment, encourage healthy marriages and further educational attainment so that households maintain an income above the poverty level without services and benefits from the federal government.”
Excluding Social Security and Medicare, the federal government administers 25 education and job-training programs; 21 housing welfare programs; 17 food aid programs; 13 health programs; seven programs for social services; and five cash-aid programs.
The federal government shows much better consolidation on welfare programs for veterans: There are only two programs. And there are only two energy-and-heating-related welfare programs, according to documents from the House Budget Committee.
The welfare programs are run across several Cabinet-level departments. The U.S. Department of Agriculture runs food stamps. Davidson notes Health and Human Services, under which Social Security and Medicare are run, administers many other welfare programs.
With a $20 trillion national debt, unless budgeting changes soon, even the big entitlement programs will become insolvent. Social Security will be insolvent by 2035, and Medicare will be insolvent by 2030, according to the office of former U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), now the secretary of Health and Human Services.