Here at the Department of Health and Human Services there are more than 80,000 full time employees administering the programs designed to aid America’s poor. But despite this army of people, and $1 trillion in resources, the unintended consequences of those programs can prevent the poor from getting back on their feet. NORBERG: One big problem is the welfare cliff. If we follow earnings as income increases, food stamps, housing, and TANF begin to bottom out, leaving recipients in a worse financial position. Even if a recipient keeps working- the cliffs continue as income rises, making the jump to work financially risky. To make matters worse, it is unclear exactly when benefits are lost. The rules change by state, legislation, income, and number of dependents. In a welfare cliff situation, each additional dollar of earnings, each opportunity for a promotion, each additional number of hours, becomes a balancing act that a welfare recipient has to decide. Do I want that, or will I lose too much in childcare assistance? Or will I lose too much in public health insurance coverage? Or will I lose too much in cash supplemental aid? And that kind of dynamic is not healthy, and is not helpful. You know a lot better welfare system would be one that allowed people to try to get out without penalizing them.