One further thought from reading Jason DeParle's American Dream.
Welfare policy makers, and the vast majority of American taxpayers, look on welfare as charity to women who are temporarily unable to support themselves. DeParle's account makes clear, though, that the women receiving welfare did not think they were getting charity. They thought of themselves as survivors and workers, even if most of the problems they survived were of their own making and the work they did was very intermittent and unreported. They viewed welfare as a pot of money that they could use now. They didn't think about whether they were entitled to it, or had done anything to deserve, or whether, if they didn't really need it, it should better go to someone else or back to the taxpayers.
The attitude of the welfare recipients DeParle studied, in other words, was like the attitude of heiresses toward their trust funds. The money was just there; they didn't think about why. So they spent it.