In the United States, the term "welfare" can be used to refer to cash benefits especially the Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) or it can be used to refer to assistance programs including, for example, healthcare, through Medicaid and food and nutrition programs.
The AFDC program was created in the 1930's during the Great Depression to relieve the burden of poor families with children who had little or no income to take care of their families. Before this AFDC program was established, antipoverty programs were usually operated by private charities or state or local governments; however, these programs were overwhelmed by the depth of need during the Great Depression. This is how Welfare began as a federal responsibility. The United States Welfare system was then handled by the federal government for the next sixty one years.
Americans had always prided themselves as self reliant and hard working individuals with strong work ethics. Many believed that those who could not take care of themselves were to blame for their own misfortunes. Because of this mindset, the Welfare system, from the start had many critics. People complained that the system did not do enough to encourage people to work. In fact, they believed that the welfare system discouraged people from working when recipients were financially benefiting without having to work. Others just simply felt it was not the federal government's responsibility to provide a Welfare system. As the system grew over the years so did the opposition to it. Criticism of the system reached an all time high during the 1980's and 1990's.
In 1992, then presidential candidate, Bill Clinton promised welfare reform as part of his political platform and in 1996, The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act was introduced. It changed the structure of the Welfare System and also added new rules to states that received Welfare funding. President Clinton said the changes would "end Welfare as we know it" After congress passed the reform law, amounts from the federal government were given...