To End Welfare as We Know It
JUST TWO WEEKS after the election of 1992, Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan challenged President-elect William Jefferson Clinton to keep his campaign promise "to end welfare as we know it." Both politicians were, of course, referring to AFDC. At the start of the Clinton moment, recipients of AFDC--at least the mothers--were held uniquely reprehensible among beneficiaries of the welfare state.
By contrast, Social Security, that program for elderly retirees who had worked steadily for thirty to forty years and paid in a portion of their wages, seemed sacrosanct. Speaking at Bryn Mawr College in December 1993, Clinton emphasized the obvious: "There are people who believe they are literally entitled to receive something back that they paid into. . . . Thirty-four million people go to see a doctor or get medical care, because of the Medicare program. Social Security has changed what it means to be old."1 The media unfailingly tagged the elderly "a powerful lobby." A canard, the President countered. "It's not just organized interest groups," he ventured. Still, the chairman of Ways and Means, Dan Rostenkowski, was not apt to forget the "helpless" old folks pushing away his limo with their canes. Their displeasure centered on an amendment that would tax