THE ROAD BACK: Scott Walker: Government dependence not American Dream
While some measure compassion by how many programs the government can provide to those in need, we measure it by helping people no longer require the assistance of the government.
How many of us grew up with the dream of someday being dependent on the government?
I certainly did not. The idea just seems foreign to the American Dream.
Sadly, there are some in our nation's capital who measure success in government by how many are dependent on the government. The massive expansion of Medicaid, waivers of work programs for food stamps and the extension of unemployment benefits may all be well-intentioned, but is more government dependence really such a good thing?
Not long after I took office, an appointee of mine asked about my objectives for his workforce development agency. He mentioned the previous administration seemed to define success by how many people they could sign up for unemployment benefits.
After thinking about it for a moment, I told him my definition of success was just the opposite. I want fewer people collecting unemployment checks. Not because we've kicked them to the streets, but because we created a better business climate where those who were previously unemployed now have a real shot at a job.
There is dignity in working hard to provide for a future of your own choosing. In turn, it leads to more freedom and more prosperity for all.
Last Wednesday, I introduced a state budget focused on helping people transition from government dependency to true independence.
Our plans forgo the temptation of the temporary financial incentives from Washington to expand Medicaid. Instead, we crafted a plan reducing the number of uninsured in our state by 224,580, while lowering the net number of people on Medicaid. Ultimately, we cover everyone living in poverty, which is what most of us thought Medicaid was originally designed to do.
For the rest, we transition them into the private and exchange markets, where the lowest premium starts at $19 per month and increases as an individual's income goes up. Moving more people into the market place gives them more control -- and responsibility -- over their lives.
Our budget plans provide employment training for able-bodied childless adults receiving food stamps. Previously, Wisconsin was one of 46 states receiving a waiver from a federal requirement for food stamp recipients to get job skills. However, we think it is an important investment in the futures of these individuals and our state.
Going forward, more than 75,000 people in our state will be enrolled in job training in order to obtain food stamps. We want them to be prepared when a job becomes open.
In addition, we are looking to double the weekly requirement for jobs searches for those on unemployment from two times a week to four or more. Some say this makes it harder to qualify for unemployment benefits. I say it makes it easier to find a job.
Overall, our mindset in Wisconsin is a sharp contrast to the views of many in Washington. While some measure compassion by how many programs the government can provide to those in need, we measure true compassion by helping people no longer require the assistance of the government.
It is important to give temporary hand up to those in need, but for those who are able, we should not provide a permanent hand out. Our goal is simple: transition people from government dependence to true independence.
It's why we celebrate the 4th of July and not April 15th. In our country, we celebrate true independence because more freedom and more prosperity are what drive the American Dream.