Mike Huckabee on Welfare & Poverty

Former Republican AR Governor; possible draft candidate


Poor people don't know how to get out of the hole

Do you know what poverty programs do to people? They keep them in poverty because we have thresholds. If you go to work, you lose Medicaid, WIC, Section 8 housing, food stamps, and then your kids go hungry. I resent it when people say people are poor because they want to be. Nobody wants to be poor. People are poor because they don't know how to get out of the hole. Government shouldn't push them back in the hole which is what our policies do when they punish people who want to work.
Source: 2016 Fox News Republican Undercard debate in Iowa , Jan 28, 2016

Poverty system was set up by poverty industry

Q: Are our social welfare programs, while well-intended, creating a culture of dependency?

A: The reason we still have so much poverty is because it was never designed to get people out of poverty. It was designed to make sure that there was an industry of poverty, so that the people in the poverty industry would have a lot of jobs. But the people who are poor haven't been benefited. Nobody who is poor wants to be. That's a nonsense statement and I hear it all the time: "Well, poor people ought to work harder." They're working as hard as they can, for gosh sake. But the problem is the system keeps pushing them down because, if they work, then they get punished. They lose all the benefits. When we did welfare reform in the '90s, you know what we did? We said you're not going to lose everything at once. There's not an arbitrary threshold. So as you move up the ladder from work and training, you'll actually always be better off than you were before. That's the American way.

Source: 2015 Fox Business/WSJ Second Tier GOP debate , Nov 10, 2015

In AR, banned video poker & assisted suicide

Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p.124-126 , Nov 18, 2008

Shift federal social programs to church, family, & community

I genuinely believed in forcing government to live within its means, cut unnecessary spending to the bone, eliminate social experiments and government "feel good" programs, and push more true charitable works to the family, the faith community, and to the nonprofit sector. In the ideal world, there would be no need for any government effort to feed people, clothe people, house people, or restore the health of people, whether physical of mental. Families would take care of their own, and when the burdens were overwhelming, their neighbors, church, and community would pitch in to take care of it. I still want that to be the goal of a society--to empower individuals, families, churches, and communities to assist people so that the role of government is reduced to providing for a strong military that can secure our borders and give us the framework we can thrive in. Self-government flavored with the culture of life.
Source: Do The Right Thing, by Mike Huckabee, p.105 , Nov 18, 2008

Recognizes what your decisions do to people at the bottom

Real leadership recognizes what your decisions do to people at the bottom. You can’t have a president who sees a whole bunch of the US as invisible. If you don’t understand how it affects the person all the way at the bottom, you’re not ready to lead. Leadership is about seeing the whole field. Our Republican Party is going to be in trouble if we creating policies & acting like we don’t understand the feelings of those waiting the tables, handling bags, driving the trucks, & moving the freight around.
Source: 2008 Republican debate at Reagan Library in Simi Valley , Jan 30, 2008

First Amendment never intended to shut out voices of faith

The First Amendment is often used illegitimately as a way to shut out the voice of faith in the public square when it was in fact intended to do the opposite. The first Amendment declares that “Congress shall pass no law which respects the establishment” of a specific religion or prohibits the free exercise thereof. Essentially it can be defined in this simple summation: “Government is not to prohibit or prefer a particular religion or faith.” It is not the government’s role, responsibility, or its right to prohibit the expression of one’s faith.

Those of us with faith know that government should guarantee that those expressions will not be prohibited. At the same time, we should be warned that they will not be preferred over another in some official capacity.

The First Amendment was intended to ensure that the voice of government did not drown out the voices of faith.

Source: From Hope to Higher Ground, by Mike Huckabee, p.154 , Jan 4, 2007

Supports Charitable Choice for funding faith-based providers

Source: PAC website, HopeForAmericaPac.org, “About” , Dec 1, 2006

Social service agencies can never replace the family

The family is the moral and institutional foundation upon which nearly all human relations are built. It is central to virtually every social endeavor from education to governance, from economics to spirituality, from the care of the aged to the conserving of the earth. The family is the institution that is most effective in solving the problems of poverty, sickness, delinquency, and crisis.

No matter how benevolent, no matter how philanthropic, and no matter how altruistic a government social service agency may be, it can never hope to match the personal intimacy of a family. There is no replacement for the close ties between family members.

And yet, we act as if the family is an unimportant entity and expect the government and its utopian leanings to save our culture. But instead of helping matters, virtually every dollar poured into those programs has only made matters worse. The cure has turned out to be worse than the disease.

Source: Kids Who Kill, by Gov. Mike Huckabee, p. 89 , Jun 1, 1998

Reinstitute Puritan work ethic as American foundation

Our country was founded on a work ethic that motivated and inspired the worker who felt the double blessing of fulfilling his calling and providing for his family. Although such sentiment is no longer widely held, it merits reigniting:
  1. A solid work ethic affords us all a sense of dignity and purpose.
  2. A solid work ethic enables us to care for our families, meet our responsibilities, and uphold our values in our communities.
  3. A solid work ethic enables us to leave a legacy for future generations. The emphasis on thrift, diligence, sacrifice, and focus, effectively disciplines future generations. They learn from our example, are inspired by our selflessness, and are blessed by our providence. The reason for American prosperity is not accidental. It is the direct outgrowth of the Puritan work ethic, which involved diligent labor, saving, and the philosophy of free enterprise. We are enjoying the leftover moral capital of those faithful men and women who went before us.
Source: Kids Who Kill, by Gov. Mike Huckabee, p.152-153 , Jun 1, 1998

Welfare should be conditioned upon work

Welfare that goes to able-bodied adults should be conditioned upon work and should be a temporary hand up instead of a permanent handout. Let's remember that the burdens of teenage pregnancy should not fall only on the mother or the taxpayers. The father should be required to pay for doctor bills, diapers, and putting food on the table.
Source: Character IS the Issue, by Mike Huckabee, p.146 , Sep 9, 1997

Maintain TANF block grants.

Huckabee adopted a letter to Congressional leaders from 4 Governors:

With reauthorization of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program just around the corner, the nation’s Governors want to express our appreciation for your continued efforts in support of maintaining the fundamental flexibility and funding levels within TANF that are so critical to our efforts to reform the nation’s welfare system.

Governors are proud of the remarkable change and the level of state innovation that has taken place throughout the country as a result of the 1996 welfare reform law. Not only have welfare caseloads dropped dramatically, close to 50% nationwide, but more individuals are going to work and a greater number of families are becoming self-sufficient. Perhaps even more remarkable is the transition of the welfare system from one of cash payments to one of encouraging work and personal responsibility. Welfare offices are being transformed from check-cutting offices to comprehensive employment and support centers. Former eligibility workers are taking on new responsibilities as mentors and job counselors.

None of this would have been possible, of course, without the flexibility and level of funding that was guaranteed in the TANF block grant. TANF provides states the flexibility to spend “welfare” funds on programs for low-income families far beyond basic cash assistance. [We attach an outline of reform examples] of programs that states are currently operating with their federal TANF and state maintenance-of-effort funds. While this is by no means a comprehensive list of all the programs currently in operation, it should give you a sense of the historic shift in culture that has taken place in state welfare agencies. In addition, we encourage you to get in touch with the Governor and state officials in your own state to find out more about their TANF programs.

We believe very strongly that states are moving in the right direction. We look forward to working with you as we move towards TANF reauthorization.

Source: National Governor's Association letter to Congress 00-NGA21 on Apr 27, 2000

Maintain federal Social Services Block Grant funding.

Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

Despite an ongoing need to provide social services to families, the elderly, and the disabled, federal funding for the Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) has been cut dramatically over the past few years, indicating a weakening of the historic state-federal partnership to serve needy Americans. In 1996, as part of the historic welfare reform agreement, Congress agreed to provide the states $2.38 billion each year for SSBG. Since that time, funding has been chipped away little by little. This year, SSBG is funded at $1.725 billion.

NGA’s Position

The nation’s Governors have consistently supported the broad flexibility of the SSBG and are adamantly opposed to cuts in federal funding for the program. Governors believe that funding for SSBG is among the most valuable federal investment that can be made for the nation’s most vulnerable population. Further cuts will be difficult for state and local governments to absorb and will cause a disruption in the delivery of the most critical human services. Governors believe that funding for SSBG should be restored to $2.38 billion, and transferability should be permanently restored to 10 percent, the levels that were agreed to as part of the 1996 welfare reform law.

In 1996, Governors reluctantly agreed to a slight reduction in funding for SSBG, from $2.8 billion to $2.38 billion, with the understanding that funding would remain at $2.38 billion through fiscal 2002, and then return to $2.8 billion. However, the federal government has consistently broken that promise. The nation’s Governors strongly urge Congress and the administration to reject the proposed cuts and to restore funding and flexibility to the program.

Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA14 on Sep 7, 2001

Maintain flexibility & funding levels for TANF block grants.

Huckabee adopted the National Governors Association position paper:

The Issue

The 1996 welfare reform law, including the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) block grant, needs to be reauthorized before September 30, 2002.

NGA’s Position

    In 1996, the Governors, Congress, and the administration entered into a historic welfare reform agreement. In exchange for assuming the risk involved with accepting the primary responsibility for transforming the welfare system from one of dependency to self-sufficiency, Governors agreed to guaranteed funding for the life of the TANF block grant along with significant flexibility to administer federal programs. The current NGA policy on welfare reform makes three key points:
  1. Maintain flexibility. The TANF block grant was created so that states could develop innovative approaches to addressing welfare reform, and states have been successful in tailoring their programs to meet the individual needs of their citizens. This flexibility must be maintained so that states can continue the progress of welfare reform.
  2. Maintain investment. States are provided with $16.5 billion each year in federal TANF funds, which together with the required state maintenance-of-effort funds, finance welfare reform. Some will argue that the funding should be cut because of the dramatic drop in caseloads. But TANF is no longer just about cash assistance - states are now serving a much broader population than under the old welfare system, and states are now providing services to families that help them succeed and advance in the workplace, not just cutting a check for cash each month.
  3. Move toward greater program alignment. The Food Stamp Program is one example of a program that is in great need of reform, and its connection to welfare reform should be discussed in the context of reauthorization. Other related programs that should be considered include child support, child welfare, housing, the Workforce Investment Act and Medicaid.
Source: National Governors Association "Issues / Positions" 01-NGA17 on Sep 21, 2001

More federal funding for Low-income energy assistance.

Huckabee signed the Southern Governors' Association resolution:

Source: Resolution of Southern Governor's Assn. on Energy Policy 01-SGA12 on Sep 9, 2001

Supports TANF grants to states.

Huckabee co-sponsored the Southern Governors' Association resolution:

Source: Resolution of Southern Governor's Assn. on TANF 01-SGA9 on Aug 7, 2001

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Page last updated: Jun 15, 2016