The U.S. welfare state is messy. That’s not a bad thing.

A lot of progressives are excited about Mitt Romney’s proposed child allowance that would replace a number of existing anti-poverty programs. The Week’s own Ryan Cooper describes it as a chance to “clean out some of the policy muck cluttering up the American welfare state.”

But what if it is the politically “messy” aspects of the U.S. welfare state that allowed it to survive and even expand in the face of Republican presidents, the Senate filibuster, and often hostile courts?

Despite Reaganism and despite unified GOP control from 2003 to 2007 and 2017 to 2019, most of the U.S.


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