I chatted about disability policy with Brad Plumer at the Washington Post here. Like many other people I was both impressed and disturbed by Chana Joffe-Walt’s disability reporting at This American Life and Planet Money.
Perhaps I was too harsh in that interview. There’s much to admire in the warm humanity of Joffe-Walt’s presentation of disability issues and the challenges facing workers our economy has left behind. Her interview with Ezra Klein fills in some missing pieces, too.
I do fear that parts of the program are oversimplified or invite misinterpretation—especially in her discussion of the SSI program for low-income kids. The rise in the child SSI caseloads is dwarfed by the decline in the number of children receiving cash assistance after the 1996 welfare reform. TANF’s failure to remotely keep pace with macroeconomic crisis and rising child poverty remains a huge policy failure of the Great Recession. The relatively small increase in child SSI caseloads pales in comparison.
You’ve seen my rap on these issues before. It’s still correct.