All Together Now

Article excerpt

It was not without warning that Congress voted to end welfare-as-we-knew-it in 1996, but still, it seemed to catch the progressive community off-guard. There was no mass protest, no flurry of outraged Op-Eds, no sustained and spirited engagement by women's, labor and religious leaders and their constituencies. Today, though, even amid war and recession, the organizing landscape is not so bleak: Important groups from all those sectors and more have committed themselves to a bold, collective campaign for real welfare reform.

The National Campaign for Jobs and Income Support, a Washington, DC-based coalition of 1,000 grassroots organizations spanning forty states (as well as organized labor, civil rights, religious, women's, immigrant and student groups), is leading the push to revamp Temporary Assistance to Needy Families and "Make TANF Work!" (www.makeTANFwork.org). They are joined by the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.nowldef.org), which is spearheading the drive to pass antipoverty bills in the House and Senate, sponsored by Patsy Mink and Paul Wellstone, respectively. NOWLDEF, along with the National Partnership for Women and Families (www.nationalpartnership.org), has focused a spotlight on the women's issues at stake in the welfare debate: caregiving, domestic violence, workplace discrimination. And the Women's Committee of One Hundred (www.welfare2002.org) brings together feminist activists and intellectuals working to improve the current system with the ultimate goal of ending women's poverty.

Call to Renewal, a network of churches and faith-based organizations, has launched a national Campaign to Overcome Poverty (www.calltorenewal.com), and the National Council of Churches (www. …