Wallace Henley says Sheila Jackson Lee is Right on Welfare

Sheila Jackson Lee
Sheila Jackson Lee

Change “welfare” to “transitional living fund” suggested Representative Sheila Jackson Lee, in a January 8 speech in the House of Representatives marking the 50th anniversary of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society “War on Poverty”.

Inclusion of “transitional” expresses the true intent of public assistance programs. The word, in fact, is crucial in reforming welfare. Though the congresswoman has sometimes been regarded outlandish, this time she got it right.

Maybe. Hopefully.

Jackson Lee got it right if she really sees “transitional” as being a progression from dependency to independency. If not, she is simply draping the Great Society status quo in trendy semantics. To understand the difference, much history has to be reviewed.

President Bill Clinton had it right in 1996 when he signed his welfare reform bill into law. “Today, we are taking an historic chance to make welfare what it was meant to be, a second chance, not a way of life,” said Clinton.

Sadly, Clinton’s vision was lost. A half-century after LBJ’s crusade American taxpayers have spent $20 trillion on the Great Society programs intended to eradicate poverty. Yet welfare, sadly, remains “a way of life” for millions. Recent changes by the Obama administration seem to codify the trend, not fight for Clinton’s vision.

Hopefully, Jackson Lee’s desire is to make public assistance a truly transitional “second chance”. She is among many policymakers who have searched for the answer. Perhaps the quest for a well-balanced welfare policy has not reached far enough back into history.

The Bible reveals the equilibrium for sound welfare policy: If a person doesn’t work he shouldn’t eat. (2 Thessalonians 3:10) Further, a man who doesn’t provide for his own family is worse than an infidel. (1 Timothy 5:8, emphasis added) Adult children who find loopholes to keep from aiding their aged parents are hypocrites. (Mark 7:9-13)

On the other hand, society must recognize there are individuals with legitimate need for ongoing support. This is part of the Micah 6:8 mandates of doing justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God. It is also the embrace of the command in James 1:27 to “care for orphans and widows in their affliction.” The whole point of establishing “deacons” (literally, “table-waiters”) in the infant church was to provide ongoing help to certain overlooked widows. (Acts 6)

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Source: Christian Post

Wallace Henley worked on domestic policy issues in the Nixon White House, and was later acting chief of staff for a Member of Congress serving on the House Education Committee. His latest book is a study of Revelation 12, titled, Spillover: War In Heaven, and is available at Amazon and other online booksellers as well as through bookstores.

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