A recent FoxNews.com article called, "Study: Welfare pays more than minimum wage in most states" is little more than another not-quite-honest attempt to rile its readers and demonize the poor with suggestions that they are living high on the hog by freeloading off hard-working taxpayers.
The article is based on a Cato Institute report which Fox seems to have regurgitated while mostly ignoring its flaws.
The first red flag is in the statement, “Among the [study’s] findings is that welfare in 13 states pays more than $15 an hour, compared with the federal hourly minimum wage of $7.25.” Instead of using that as an indictment of our abysmal minimum wage, which has depreciated over time both in real dollars and in payment per productivity, Fox suggests it's shockingly cushy to be on welfare.
Unfortunately for Fox, the nebulous term “welfare” here is a bit misleading. Joshua Holland of BillMoyers.com clarifies that the study uses “the maximum benefits of every federal anti-poverty program in which a single parent with two kids could participate, including things like tax credits for the working poor and supplemental nutrition and health benefits for pregnant women and young children” to denote “welfare.” He concludes that the “typical” family on federal aid would come nowhere near the level of aid calculated.
Fox bothered to fact check none of that however, stating later that “a full package of welfare benefits often exceeds take-home pay in part because benefits are tax-free” which borders on being entirely factually false. Families are not “often” taking home this “full package” of benefits, nor is “take-home pay” defined in any meaningful sense.
The study also leaves out how many poor families with kids aren’t getting any TANF benefits and that those eligible for food stamps are not always taking them. This is partly due to the government “reducing benefit levels and tightening eligibility requirements” which is precisely the treatment the study calls for, according to Fox.
Near the end of the article, Fox issues its only counter to the overall narrative:
The Washington-based Center on Budget and Policy Priorities argues the study has several flaws, including that it “lumps together” a set of safety-net programs, including Medicaid, housing assistance and food stamps, and that “all poor families in which the parents aren’t working receive all of these benefits.”
This attempt to show “balance” and be “fair” falls short, however. Though this paragraph casts doubt on the entire study, no follow up or explanation of those facts is given, and in no way is this viewpoint reflected in the article anywhere else, including its headline, which cites the findings of the study as if they were . . . actually true.