Lit Issue 2019

“Welfare Queen,” A Misnomer

A new book highlights how in the 1970s one woman altered American welfare policy forever

Gaby Febland

In 2013, author Josh Levin first became acquainted with the story of Linda Taylor, first nicknamed “The Welfare Queen” by a Rochester newspaper. Levin wrote a detailed article for Slate that both brought her crimes to light and detailed her iconization by Ronald Reagan and other politicians looking for a way to cut money to public aid programs. Taylor was infamous, and then she was forgotten—yet her existence influenced policy surrounding public aid for decades.