Accuracy in Media

Incoming American Enterprise Institute president Robert Doar called out the New York Times for describing single mothers entering the workforce as evidence of a “fraying safety net.”

“Its latest analysis of the positive news that single mothers are working more left me exasperated,” Doar wrote in a blog post for AEI titled “Why the New York Times Drives Me Crazy.”

“The article turns the story of a strong economy and a properly functioning safety net lifting families out of poverty into a spooky story about a ‘fraying safety net.’ That’s wrong. Single mothers entering the workforce is an unsurprising thing and a good thing, full stop. And our government-funded safety net is bigger than ever.”

Doar worked in the Giuliani administration to help implement welfare reform that lifted many families out of poverty and into work.

“The Times is ‘surprised’ that the share of single mothers in the workforce has increased by four percentage points in the past four years, even though this is precisely what mid-1990s welfare reform was designed to encourage, especially in good economic times,” Doar wrote. “And the Times neglects to mention the most important outcomes of that reform: As employment among single mothers rose, family incomes increased, and child poverty decreased significantly, never again to return to pre-welfare reform levels. Yes, the share on cash welfare dropped, as the Times notes. That’s primarily because more families were earning more income and climbing out of poverty. Seems like a good result to me.”

Doar added that the Times’ characterization of welfare programs as a “fraying safety net” is inaccurate and ignores the fact that, according to AEI “the expansion to the refundable child tax credit that was part of 2017 tax reform has further expanded the resources available for low-income working parents.”

“My biggest gripe is the insistence that we should be suspicious of this new era of increasing work and declining poverty because it is partly driven by ‘a fraying federal safety net,’” Doar continued. “With apologies to the Old Gray Lady — that’s absurd. More Americans than ever are enrolled in Medicaid, food stamp enrollment is still well above pre-recession levels (the average per-family benefit is higher too), and the Earned Income Tax Credit provides more support than ever for working parents.”

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