Peter the Citizen

I am pleased to include on my website the work of “Peter the Citizen,” an ardent conservative deeply concerned about truth in policy making and policy assessment.  – MLW

Updated September 16, 2019


  • “The Importance of a Credible Counterfactual: An Explanation for the American Enterprise Institute” December 14, 2019 –
  • “Robert Rector and ‘The Truth – About the New Food Stamp Work Requirements’ Effects'” December 14, 2019 –
  • “The Case for Evidence-Based Public Assistance Reform: A Response to Matt Weidinger” November 11, 2019 –
  • “Is Relying on an Econometric Study to Promote ‘Policies Similar to Welfare Reform’ a Basis for Evidence-Based Policymaking?” October 6, 2019 –
  • “Would Reinstating the pre-1996 AFDC Program Reduce Poverty? A Response to the National Academies of Sciences” September 15, 2019 –
  • “TANF Just Received the Golden Fleece Award! Well-Deserved, but Who Should Get Credit: HHS or Congress?” July 31, 2019 –
  • “Evidence-Based Policymaking Should be a Two-Way Street: A Note to the American Enterprise Institute” July 6, 2019 –
  • “TANF Can’t be Reformed – It Must be Repealed and Replaced: A Brief Explanation for Matt Weidinger” June 17, 2019 –
  • “Why AEI drives me crazy: A Brief Response to Robert Doar” June 7, 2019 –
  • “TANF Deepened Poverty: A Note to the National Academies of Sciences,” March 9, 2019 – View
  • “How Well Do You Know TANF? A Quiz,” March 9, 2019 – View
  • “TANF is Broken! The Real Irony is Believing It’s been a Success,” January 26, 2019 – View
  • “Who Killed Work Requirements for SNAP in the Farm Bill? Answer: Conservative Ideologues!” January 1, 2019 – View
  • “TANF is Broken! Is Congress Fixing the Problems – or Just ‘Kicking the Can Down the Road’? A Response to Senator Steve Daines,” January 1, 2019 – View
  • “Explaining Welfare Reform Tweet by Tweet: A Response to Scott Winship,” October 21, 2018 – View
  • “Expanding Work Requirements in Non-Cash Welfare Programs: TANF is NOT a Model, but a Cautionary Tale,” October 22, 2018 – View
  • “Will Work Requirements Reduce Poverty? A Response to Robert Doar,” September 22, 2018 – View
  • “Do Work Requirements Work? Understanding the Limits of the Evidence: A Response to Angela Rachidi and Robert Doar,” August 8, 2018 – View
  • “How Do the Foundation for Government Accountability’s Evaluations of Welfare Reform Measure Up? A Report Card (Hint: The FGA Fails),” June 24, 2018 – View
  • “The House Ways and Means TANF Reauthorization Bill: Fixing the Problems or Just Treating the Symptoms? A Response to Robert VerBruggen,” June 17, 2018 – View
  • “The JOBS for Success Act: A Noble but Futile Attempt to Reform ‘Welfare Reform’,” June 16, 2018 – View
  • “The Importance of a Credible Counterfactual: An Explanation for Tarren Bragdon and the FGA,” May 20, 2018 – View
  • “The Best Way Forward on TANF is to Start Over: A Response to Angela Rachidi,” May 12, 2018 – View
  • “Why We Must Be Bold and Smart on Welfare Reform: A Response to Kay Coles James,” May 10, 2018 – View
  • “Is It Time to Reform TANF’s ‘Punishing’ Work Requirements? Applying New Insights from the ‘Intellectual Godfather’ of Welfare Reform,” May 10, 2018 – View
  • “The Misuse of Opinion Polls to Promote ‘Punishing’ Work Requirements: Why Policy Details Matter,” May 6, 2018 – View
  • “The Games They Will Play – the Welfare ‘Reform’ Edition: A Tale about Congress, Loopholes, and the Need for Competent Legislation,” January 1, 2018 — View
  • “In a Competition of Ideas, a Block Grant is the Worst Option: A Response to Lanhee Chen,” September 23, 2017 — View
  • “Senator Cassidy Thinks a Block Grant for Health Care is a Good Idea – That’s Not the Lesson from the TANF Block Grant in Louisiana,” September 16, 2017 — View
  • “A Note to Pre-Post Conservatives: You Are Not Fooling Anyone – Except Maybe Yourselves (and Some Politicians),” September 2, 2017 — View
  • “The FGA’s Simplistic, Misleading, and Irresponsible Report on Work Requirements in Kansas: A Sentence-by-Sentence Critique,” September 2, 2017 — View
  • “‘The Truth About Welfare Reform’ Won’t be Found at the Foundation for Government Accountability: A Response to Jonathan Ingram,” August 31, 2017 — View
  • “TANF is NOT a ‘Blueprint’ for Serious Policymakers: An Explanation for Nic Horton,” August 26, 2017 — View
  • “‘Welfare Reform’ New York Style: A Model for the House Budget Committee?” July 26, 2017 — View
  • “TANF Work Requirements are NOT About Work: An Explanation for Katherine Bradley and Robert Rector,” July 23, 2017 — View
  • “It’s Time for a Serious Conservative Welfare Reform Proposal: 5 Tips for Representative Jim Jordan,” July 16, 2017 — View
  • “Using Squirrely Data is No Way to Justify Conservative Policies: A Note to AEI’s Marc Thiessen,” July 8, 2017 — View
  • “The FGA’s ‘First of Its Kind Study’ Should Have Been the Last: An Evaluation Note for Pre-Post Conservatives,” July 4, 2017 — View
  • “Senator Mike Lee Should Read His Own ‘Welfare Reform’ Bill – To Find Out What’s In It,” June 17, 2017 — View
  • “The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act: A Conservative Plan to Eviscerate the Safety Net (An Update),” June 11, 2017 — View
  • “Maine DOES NOT Show How to Make Welfare Work: A Response to Jared Meyer and Mary Mayhew,” June 4, 2017 — View
  • “The Failure of Conservative Welfare Reform is what ‘Traps the Poor in Payouts’: A Response to Adam Brandon,” June 1, 2017 — View
  • “TANF: A Great Innovation or a Massive Policy Failure? A Response to Arthur Brooks,” March 4, 2017 — View
  • “TANF Can’t be Reformed – It Must be Repealed and Replaced: A Brief Explanation for Angela Rachidi,” March 4, 2017 — View
  • “Losing Ground on TANF: AEI’s The Reach of the Cash-Based Safety Net Misses the Big Picture,” March 1, 2017 — View
  • “A “Super Block Grant” is a Super Bad Idea: A Response to Gary Alexander,” February 19, 2017 — View
  • “‘Wisconsin Works for Everyone’ as a Model for National Welfare Reform: Is Robert Doar Right?” February 12, 2017 — View
  • “Making Progress on TANF: A Response to Angela Rachidi,” February 12, 2017 — View
  • “Show Me the Evidence: Peter the Citizen’s Fight for Rigor and Results in Social Policy (A response to Ron Haskins),” February 12, 2017 — View
  • “Speaker Ryan Has Failed the Poor and the Sick: We Need ‘A Much Better Way,'” January 19, 2017 — View
  • “Did a Flexible Block Grant for Welfare Spur State Innovation? Absolutely – But That ‘Innovation’ Didn’t Help Poor Families,” January 14, 2017 — View
  • “Ten Facts Conservatives Don’t Want You to Know About ‘Welfare Reform,'” January 14, 2017 — View
  • “‘Wage War on Poverty, Not Poor People:’ A Comment on the Heartland Institute’s ‘Roadmap’ for Winning the War on Poverty,” January 7,2017 — View
  • “TANF is a Step Backward for the Poor and for Conservatism: An Explanation for Shawn Fremstad,” December 21, 2016 — View
  • “The Failure of TANF Work Requirements in 2015: The Need for ‘A Much Better Way,'” December 20, 2016 — View
  • “Making ‘Opportunity Grants’ Great Again: A Worthy but Challenging Prospect,” December 18, 2016 — View
  • “It Takes More than Bipartisanship for Enduring and Successful Policy: The 1996 ‘Welfare Reform’ Law is Not a Model to Emulate – A Response to Governor Jon Huntsman,” December 5, 2016 — View
  • “Making Welfare Reform Great Again: Five Recommendations for President Elect Donald J. Trump,” November 29, 2016 — View
  • “Does Making Welfare Much ‘Less Appealing’ Reduce Poverty?” November 29, 2016 — View
  • “Opinion Polls and Public Policy: Why Policy Details Matter,” November 29, 2016 — View
  • “The “Poverty Measurement Improvement Act”: A Small Step Forward, but We Can Do Better,” November 29, 2016 — View
  • “The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act: A Conservative Plan to Eviscerate the Safety Net,” November 29, 2016 — View
  • “The Welfare Reform and Upward Mobility Act: The Epitome of Dysfunctional Conservatism –An Explanation for Rachel Sheffield,” November 29, 2016 — View
  • “Making Progress on ‘Welfare Reform’: A Response to Scott Winship,” September 30, 2016 — View
  • “TANF in Texas: The Need for “A Much Better Way”: A Cautionary Tale for Ways and Means Chairman Brady,” September 1, 2016 — View
  • “Welfare Reform: A Failure of Conservative Policymaking: A Response to Ramesh Ponnuru,” August 30, 2016 — View
  • “Making Progress on TANF: A Response to Scott Winship,” August 27, 2016 — View
  • “Pre-Post Conservatives Say TANF is a “Success”: Let’s Make It Even Better – A Possible Compromise,” August 24, 2016 — View
  • “TANF is a Massive Policy Failure, But Other “Liberal” Welfare Policies Reduced Poverty: A Response to Scott Winship,” August 22, 2016 — View
  • “The Failure of TANF Work Requirements in Wisconsin: A Note for Speaker Ryan,” August 22, 2016 — View
  • “Speaker Ryan’s ‘Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility Report’: The Need for ‘A Much Better Way’,” August 17, 2016  — View
  • “The Failure of TANF Work Requirements: A Much Needed Tutorial for the Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute,” August 12, 2016 — View
  • “The American Enterprise Institute’s Proposals to “Improve” TANF: A Cruel Hoax on the Poor,” June 13, 2016 — View
  • “Understanding ‘$2 a Day’ Poverty: An Explanation for Robert Doar,” June 11, 2016 — View
  • “The 1996 ‘Welfare Reform’ has NOT Served the Poor or the Country: A Response to The Washington Post,” May 29, 2016 — View
  • “TANF in Michigan: Did We Really “Fix” Welfare in 1996? A Cautionary Tale for Speaker Ryan,” May 25, 2016 — View
  • “House Lacks Courage to Undertake Real Welfare Reform: A Response to Angela Rachidi,” May 22, 2016 — View
  • “Profiles in (Dis)courage(ment),” May 15, 2016 — View
  • “Republican Study Committee Blueprint on the Safety Net: It’s Time to Go Back to the Drawing Board,” May 14, 2016 — View
  • “Reforming ‘Welfare Reform’ New York Style: A Possible Doar-Germanis Compromise?” May 11, 2016 — View
  • “‘Welfare Reform’ Increased Poverty and No One Can Contest It: A Note to Conservatives,” April 24, 2016 — View
  • “Saving Speaker Ryan: 20 Reasons Why TANF is NOT ‘Welfare Reform,’ NOT a Model for Reforming the Safety Net, and NOT Conservatism,” April 24, 2016 — View
  • “The Failure of Conservative Welfare Reform: Insights from Seinfeld,” April 22, 2016 — View
  • “Will Conservative Reforms to the Safety Net Reduce Poverty? A Skeptical Conservative Responds to Scott Winship,” January 17, 2016 — View
  • “Which Safety-Net Programs Responded To The Recession? A Brief Response to Scott Winship,” January 17, 2016 — View
  • “The Need for Common Sense Conservative Welfare Reform: Ten Questions for House Speaker Paul Ryan,” January 6, 2016. — View
  • “TANF is Broken! The Louisiana Story: A Response to Representative Charles Boustany,” November 8, 2015. — View
  • “How to Really Discuss Poverty like Grown-Ups: A Cautionary Tale about ‘Opportunity Grants,’ the ‘Flex Fund,’ and ‘Serious’ Conservative Anti-Poverty Strategies,” November 4, 2015. — View
  • “TANF has been a massive policy failure – Let’s start over: A Response to Robert Doar,” October 22, 2015. — View
  • “$2 a Day – An Even More Complete Picture: TANF is ‘Welfare for States,’ Not for Needy Families,” September 27, 2015. — View
  • “TANF is Broken! It’s Time to Reform ‘Welfare Reform.’” Personal Statement of Peter Germanis. Working Draft, July 25, 2015. — View

Press Coverage and Citations

  • “Polling the Uninformed,” Sheila Kennedy, June 1, 2018 – View
  • “They’re the think tank pushing for welfare work requirements. Republicans say they’re experts. Economists call it ‘junk science’,” Caitlin Dewey, May 18, 2018 – View
  • “Do states regret expanding Medicaid?,” Mark Hall, March 26, 2018 – View
  • “The Real Lessons From Bill Clinton’s Welfare Reform,” Van R. Newkerk II, February 8, 2018 – View
  • “West Virginia’s billionaire governor is waging a war on anti-poverty programs,” Greg Kaufmann, February 6, 2018 – View
  • “After all these years, ‘welfare reform’ is the same racist dog whistle it always was,” Jared Bernstein, January 8, 2018 – View
  • “Focus on Welfare ‘Reform”: More Thoughtful Analysis From a Conservative,” Max J. Skidmore, December 5, 2017 – View
  • “Using Government Programs to Encourage Employment, Increase Earnings, and Grow the Economy,” Ron Haskins, November 21, 2017 – View
  • “Why Sociologists Matter in the Welfare Reform Debate.” William Julius Wilson, October 27, 2017 – View
  • “The latest Obamacare repeal bill is modeled after welfare reform. That was a failure,” Dylan Matthews, September 20, 2017 – View
  • “The Return of Welfare Reform,” Tara Golshan, Vox, July 1, 2017 — View
  • “How the Big Lie Works,” Sheila Kennedy, June 27, 2017 — View
  •  “Restoring the Entrails of Welfare Reform,” Zachary Parolin and Michael Wiseman, Poverty & Public Policy, June 2017 — View
  • “TANF at 20: The 1996 ‘Welfare Reform’ Law and its Impact,” Don Friedman, March 24, 2017 — View 
  • “Those Pesky Facts,” Sheila Kennedy, March 17, 2017 — View  
  • “Post-Election Federal Policy Update — December 2016,” Josh Protas — View 
  • “TANF: The Wrong Model for Medicaid,” Jon Peacock, August 22, 2016— View
  • “Welfare Reform and the Safety Net: Evidence Contradicts Likely Assumptions Behind Forthcoming GOP Poverty Plan,” Robert Greenstein, June 6, 2016— View
  • “How Michigan ‘games’ the welfare-to-work system,” Mike Wilkinson, Bridge Magazine, December 9, 2016 — View
  • “Labels Aren’t Analyses,” Sheila Kennedy, December 28, 2016 — View
  • “TANF, Peter the Citizen and ‘Less Appealing’ Indiana,” Sheila Kennedy, December 30, 2016 — View
  • Anne Jordan, “Making ‘Work First’ Work Better A Descriptive Analysis of Ohio’s TANF Program & Options to Improve its Cost-Effectiveness,” July 2016 — View
  • Zach Parolin, “The Sum of Its Parts? Assessing Variation and Trends in Family Income Support Across the 48 Contiguous United States, November 2016 — View
  • Skidmore, Max J. “How Successful has TANF Been? Taking Seriously a Thoughtful Analysis from the Right, with a Tip of the Hat to Peter the Citizen” (Editorial). Journal of Poverty & Public Policy, 8(4), 438-458.— View
  • “Yes, the ’96 Welfare Reform Reduced Child Poverty,” Scott Winship, National Review, September 7, 2016 — View
  • “The Decline of the American Family: Can Anything be Done to Stop the Damage?” Ron Haskins and Isabel Sawhill, The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, August 27, 2016 — View
  • “The Libertarian Case Against the 1996 Welfare Law.” Samuel Hammond, Talk Poverty, August 23, 2016 — View
  • “Twenty Years Since ‘Welfare Reform.'” Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer, The Atlantic, August 22, 2016 — View
  • “Block Grant’s Flexibility for States = Less Support for Families,” Wisconsin Budget Project Blog, August 19, 2016  — View
  • “‘If the goal was to get rid of poverty, we failed’: The Legacy of the 1996 Welfare Reform.” Dylan Matthews, Vox, June 20, 2016 — View
  • “The Failure of Welfare Reform.” Jordan Weissmann, Slate, June 1, 2016 — View
  •  ”Increasing Work Opportunities and Reducing Poverty Two Decades After Welfare Reform.” Sandra Danziger et al., Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2015. — View
  • “From Welfare to a Work-Based Safety Net: An Incomplete Transition.” Sandra Danziger et al., Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2015. — View
  • “TANF at Age 20: Work Still Works.” Ron Haskins, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2015. — View
  • “Supplementing TANF’s Work Requirement: A Compromise.” Ron Haskins, Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, 2015 — View
  • “The Republican Party’s Strategy to Ignore Poverty.” Eduardo Porter, The New York Times, October 27, 2015. — View
Peter Germanis' Work