Two notions have achieved conventional wisdom status in many quarters. First, that the United States is a safety net laggard when compared with other highly developed nations; and second, that the obvious thing to do to improve America's safety net is to become more like those other nations. In this essay, which is based on remarks delivered at the 2016 Federalist Society Student Symposium, I explain why both claims are wrong. Far from being a " welfare state laggard, " the United States has a rich tradition of a strong safety net, one that has over the course of the nation's history reflected a distinct American identity. And when it comes to repairing its frayed safety net, the U.S. needs to craft solutions tailored to its own unique institutions.

Julia D. Mahoney, America’s Exceptional Safety Net, 40 Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy, 33–39 (2017).