Magazine article Insight on the News

Welfare Reforms Often Are Bogus

Magazine article Insight on the News

Welfare Reforms Often Are Bogus

Article excerpt

By all accounts, President Clinton is planning to unveil a massive proposal for welfare reform early this year. The centerpiece of his plan gives the appearance of changing the system, at least in part. It would require that parents in the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program, or AFDC, who have received welfare for more than two years perform community service work in exchange for benefits.

But despite the president's rhetoric, the actions of his administration during its first year have gone in exactly the opposite direction - toward expanding conventional welfare programs, undermining existing work requirements for welfare recipients and even advising states to violate current laws in order to reduce the amount of work welfare recipients are required to perform.

In fact, there are serious reasons to believe that the Clinton administration, while sounding conservative and getting political mileage out of the issue will accomplish very little in terms of the tough measures needed to stop welfare as a long-term, one-way handout.

This imression began to build from the administration's very first act on the welfare-reform front - the appointmnt of Donna Shalala to head the Department of Health and Human Services. Shalala had served for years on the board of directors of the Children's Defense Fund, an organization that has taken the lead in opposing work requirements for welfare recipients. This is hardly the person to put in charge of "ending welfare as we know it," as the president likes to say.

In its first budget proposal, the White House sought no funding whatsoever for "workfare" even though it had a golden opportunity to do so. Instead, it used that chance to propose a massive $110 billion spending increase for conventional programs such as food stamps, the Women, Infants and Children Food Program, public housing and energy assistance over the next five years.

By procrastinating on its commitment to workfare, the administration ensured that no welfare reforms can have an effect until fiscal year 1995, and made it highly unlikely t than 4 or 5 percent of all parents enrolled in AFDC actually will be required to work in exchange for benefits by the time Clinton seeks reelection in 1996.

Moreover, the administration spent most of 1993 trying to eliminate or weaken the only workfare program in current law - one that affects a scant 3. …

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