Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker proposes “lifestyle audits” for poor people

It’s taken me a few days to write this one, because it’s just hard to know where to begin. Remember the legend of the welfare queen (living it up on the taxpayer’s dime) constructed by the Reagan administration, and revived to help pass the Clinton Administration’s 1996 Welfare Reform Act? Well she’s back, and with her comes all the moralism, anger, and fear associated with those periods. When I saw the phrase “lifestyle audits,” I just assumed we were talking about Wall Street and banking executives. Is that conversation over already? Wouldn’t that be a more lucrative line of inquiry?

Welfare rolls are down 50-70% as a result of the welfare reform act. Where have all those people gone? The most popular theories are: prison, the military, and a vast and expanding low wage underclass. Looking for alternatives? Here are three new case studies of projects for mothers on welfare (Lumina Foundation, 32-page PDF).

Disclaimer: We do not take positions on candidates. We do however track emerging policy and research that relates to poverty, inequality, and the region (see list at right).

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