The Republican party is actively engaged in reducing social safety net programs. That, of course, is what it means to be a conservative. It has always been their role in society. That was what prisons and workhouses were for according to Dicken's Ebenezer Scrooge in an earlier era. The Democratic Party is in the position of resisting the attack on social safety net programs. That is consistent with the liberalism that has characterized the Party since FDR. The public has to decide whether conservatives are correct in asserting that social safety net programs prevent people from seeking employment, or lifting themselves up from their bootstraps which aren't as useful as the bootstraps that are available to those who have been luckier to have been born with better bootstraps. That is, are social safety net programs responsible for social immobility and poverty?
The argument in this article is that social safety net programs are a necessary but not a sufficient condition for dealing with the problem of poverty. As long as we have high unemployment, and growing income inequality, the hollowing out of the middle class will continue and the erosion of support for social safety net programs will accelerate. The article includes some suggestions about what might be done increase employment opportunities and maintain the middle class which is a requirement for an effective democracy.