The welfare-or-work trade-off is directly responsible for increased dependency on government. Insidious designs in welfare programs ensure that individuals can collect more from taxpayer-funded benefits than they can earn working. This isn’t a problem of a welfare cliff keeping people on the program if they worked a few extra hours or took a raise. Rather, it’s a problem of a welfare trap keeping people out of work entirely.
Congress’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic has made this phenomenon even worse. Ironically, many of those pushing to expand unemployment and other welfare benefits were also lobbying states to shut down their economies, further perpetuating the cycle.
Since the pandemic hit, federal policymakers have pushed through a vast array of welfare benefit boosts, unemployment insurance (UI) bonuses, and tax-incentive increases, while suspending many traditional requirements for eligibility.