Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Reich Challenges Republicans to End `Corporate Welfare'

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Reich Challenges Republicans to End `Corporate Welfare'

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Labor Secretary Robert Reich challenged Republicans Tuesday to match their call for changes in welfare programs with an overhaul of business tax credits that he termed "corporate welfare."

"Since we are committed to moving the disadvantaged from welfare to work, why not target corporate welfare as well, and use the savings to help all Americans get better work," Reich said in a speech to the Democratic Leadership Council.

Reich did not specify programs that might be targeted. But he said the DLC's research arm, the Progressive Policy Institute, had compiled a "formidable list of special tax benefits for particular industries, totaling over $111 billion over five years."

Reich said in a later interview on CNBC that he was "not qualified to indicate which particular industries" should be targeted. Members of his staff said the secretary simply wanted to initiate a debate.

Indeed, Commerce Secretary Ron Brown said he had not heard of Reich's proposal. "As far as I know, it has not been discussed at the highest levels of the administration," Brown said as he left a White House meeting.

"Lots of industries do have special tax breaks and subsidies," Reich said. "At a time when we are examining the welfare system it is appropriate that we should look at all the handouts and ask if they are worthwhile."

Republicans in Congress are advancing a welfare plan that would end the automatic eligibility of the poor, cut off benefits after two years and require recipients to work. Welfare mothers who had children while receiving assistance would not be allowed additional benefits.

"It's perfectly appropriate to evaluate and re-examine all benefits, subsidies and incentives of every kind if we're going to be re-examining the system," said Donald Shapiro, a New York tax lawyer. "It's certainly appropriate for the secretary of labor to just state a conclusion and then ask others to fill it in. …

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