Gaps in the US Safety Net: A Challenge for the Obama Administration
The social policy of the US welfare state is based on a liberal model of social protection. The social contract is based on the idea that individuals of working age individuals should support themselves and their dependants thanks to their earned income. However, to have a job is no longer sufficient in protecting individuals against main social risks. President Obama has been elected on the promise that he will restore the American dream, whereby individual work is rewarded by upward social mobility. However, the Obama administration faces the challenge of rising social inequality and poverty, in an extremely difficult economic context. The Great Recession has laid bare the gaps of the safety net: a growing proportion of families must choose between paying for food or rent. To understand the inadequacies of the US social protection system, it is necessary to study the structure of public assistance programmes, as well as labour market trends and the impact of the recession on low-income households. This analysis will shed light on the main characteristics of the Obama administration’s response to the economic crisis.