Review of the Better Jobs and Income Bill

HRD-78-110: Published: May 23, 1978. Publicly Released: May 23, 1978.

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The Better Jobs and Income Act represents an attempt to reform major parts of the U.S. income security system. The bill recognizes the interrelationships which now exist among cash, in-kind (food stamps), jobs, training, and tax credit programs and attempts to blend these relationships into a single program. This approach suggests that welfare reform must be considered within the context of the broader income security system.

The bill may cost considerably more than its estimated $2.8 billion over present program costs. The total program will be difficult to implement, coordinate, and administer, and problems can be expected during the planned 3-year phase-in period. The bill's cash benefit structure may not meet its goals of providing adequate aid and may not, in some cases, remedy the family splitting incentives of current programs. Cash payments would be based on official poverty lines which may not accurately show current needs. The bill's jobs component may miss its goals by: misallocating jobs to localities, failing to reach the most needy, creating jobs mismatched with target groups, treating target groups differently, providing public service jobs not transferable to the regular labor market, and substituting for State and local funds. The bill will probably suffer from system deficiencies which have impeded such broad changes in the past. The lack of comprehensive income security policy, no single system manager, no consistent definition of income security, and data and reporting problems will all affect implementation of the bill.

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