quire some big changes in the excessively ideological stance with which activists on the Right and the left approach welfare. 16 The conservatives will have to curb the apparently irresistible tendency to use the welfare issue as a club to beat liberals over their heads. The view that welfare is a liberal program that has caused poverty, an analysis that few serious scholars of the welfare state support, must be abandoned. Conservatives might even admit that their opposition to universal health care and public employment has contributed to welfare dependence. Liberals and welfare rights activists will also have to do some serious soul-searching. They will have to abandon the currently popular view on the Left that all welfare reforms must be opposed because they derive from myths about welfare recipients or efforts to drive women into the labor market. More importantly, they will also have to resist the appeal of a welfare rights strategy that creates the appearance of bringing back the old system--burrowing into the implementation process to try to carve out exemptions for various classes of recipients, liberalizing work requirements to make them useless and using court challenges to reverse losses in the political arena. This will be an extremely difficult tendency to resist since the advocacy approach to welfare that has dominated since the 1970s is enormously comfortable with these tactics. Finally, the Left will need to stop complaining and present a positive agenda for reform that is politically realistic. This will require less emphasis on attacking the myths that justify welfare reform and more on promoting those aspects of the reform program that help low-wage workers--day care subsidies, job- training programs and, above all, universal health coverage. 17
The 1996 reforms do not change welfare as radically as both supporters and critics of the new law seem to believe. But they do create a window of opportunity to expand programs for the working poor, reduce the role of means-tested relief and perhaps transform the nature of the debate over the American "dole."