President Trump’s new executive order on welfare reform has laid the groundwork to get more Americans get back to work while protecting and strengthening the safety net for the truly needy. Federal agencies must take advantage of this opportunity to roll back harmful Obama-era policies that have trapped families in dependency and cost taxpayers billions.

Right now, America combines near-record-low unemployment with near-record-high welfare dependency — the result of state-level eligibility exemptions, federal loopholes and policies that put work on the back burner. Many of these policies created incentives for able-bodied adults to sit on the sidelines — even though there is good, well-paying work to be done. The resulting safety net isn’t a safety net at all — it has entrapped able-bodied adults in dependency and threatened resources for the truly needy.

But welfare reform can change that. And the Trump administration has just given agency leaders a road map to do so.

The executive order, signed Tuesday afternoon, lays out principles to encourage economic mobility through work — a tactic that we’ve seen succeed in states across the nation. It calls for a strengthened work requirement for able-bodied adults, building off the requirement established in the 1996 bipartisan welfare reform that requires able-bodied adults on food stamps to work, train or volunteer for at least 20 hours per week.

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