Punishing the Poorest Families

Punishing the Poorest Families: Wisconsin’s New Budget is More of the Same

Posted on February 28, 2017

Wisconsin’s Governor Walker has recently proposed requiring food stamp and housing assistance recipients to work or risk losing this assistance. His proposals reflect a long pattern of targeting the poorest families in the name of making them more responsible and independent. The strategy can be traced back to the Reagan presidency, and the years since then have seen the whittling away of the safety net, which is now so shredded that identifying the next group of families who receive services that can be cut is itself a challenge of sorts. This essay briefly traces the history of these proposals and the attitudes and politics that helped to create them.