It's a pleasure to be back at Heritage. I've enjoyed your
hospitality many times before. Your willingness to hear from the
nation's governors is just one bit of evidence that this
institution has the wisdom-- all too rare in this town -- to know
that Washington doesn't have a monopoly on good ideas.
The American people are fed up with an arrogant and out-of-touch
federal government. That's what fueled the ballot box rebellion of
1994. Yet, despite the enormous success of the House Republicans in
delivering on the Contract with America, voters remain deeply
cynical about Washington's ability to make change. In fact, a poll
done last week by USA Today showed voters' faith in Congress
at an historic low. Why? Well, I can't think of a better example of
what fuels voter cynicism about Washington than the status of
The American people are justifiably outraged by a federal
welfare system that contradicts their values. It penalizes work,
discourages marriage, and encourages illegitimacy. A foreign power
bent on ruining America couldn't have designed a more destructive
system than the one Washington has imposed on the American people.
That's why in 1992, a candidate who promised to "end welfare as we
know it" held such appeal for many voters. But what we've seen
since has only deepened their contempt for D.C.
Bill Clinton has been President for almost a thousand days,
three quarters of it with heavy Democratic majorities in Congress.
And how far has he gotten on his pledge? Well he spent $33 billion
of the taxpayers money on "welfare as we know it." Nearly a million
more people have enrolled in "welfare as we know it." And today,
600,000 more children are living on "welfare as we know it."
But Bill Clinton hasn't changed one word of federal law to "end
welfare as we know it." Not one. Cal Ripken isn't the only guy with
a streak still going strong. Every day Bill Clinton sits on the
Oval Office, he's still not ending welfare as we know it. He's
extending welfare, and he knows it.
Voters understand that it is possible to change welfare.
Millions of them -- in states as diverse as Massachusetts,
Wisconsin, New Hampshire and California -- have seen their
governors do it, often with bipartisan support, often with limited
resources, and often despite lawsuits from the welfare defenders.
In California, I've reduced welfare grants by 20 percent, saved the
taxpayers $9 billion, doubled the number of welfare recipients at
work, and insisted that teenage parents on welfare live in their
parents' home, that parents get the check, and the girl stay in
school to learn the skills that will let her and her child escape
By contrast, the federal model of welfare simply provides a
welfare check to an unwed child-mother -- who is too young to get a
driver's license -- so she can move out to her own apartment. How
utterly irresponsible. Then she is given even more accessible prey
to the next man seeking a junior-high school one-night stand
romance. It doesn't have to be that way. People can escape welfare.
But it takes work, and it happens one person at a time. A great
example is Trish Molina.
I met Trish in California's Riverside County after she graduated
from our successful welfare work program known as GAIN. She got an
entry-level job at a small wireless cable company. She's since been
promoted three times. Today, she's the assistant to the head of the
company. She's happy. She loves her career. She just needed the
skills and discipline to take a job and stick with it. Most
important, the job isn't just helping her, it's helping her
children. They now have the example of a mother who gets up every
morning and goes to work, teaching them what it means to accept
responsibility for yourself and contribute to your community.
The young mother says that now that she's working she respects
herself and her children respect her too. That's why we need
welfare reform that demands personal responsibility, encourages
work and discourages irresponsible behavior. Yet, President Clinton
has not only failed to make significant welfare reform in
Washington, he's actually blocked state like mine that are trying
to make that change.
At a meeting of the nation's governors, he promised to approve
welfare waivers in 90 days or less, whether he agreed with the
changes or not. In California, we sought a federal waiver for one
reform we wanted to make to reduce welfare grants...and to make
work more attractive than welfare. That was over a year ago. And
the Clinton Administration continues to delay it at a cost to
traxpayers of $3 million a week.
We've sought another waiver since November. This one would allow
us to end the practice of giving larger and larger welfare checks
to women who have more and more children while already on welfare.
We think it's simply wrong to reward that kind of irresponsible
behavior. Working families don't get an automatic pay raise when
they have more children, so why should women on welfare? And why
should a young couple working and saving to have a child be taxed
to subsidize that welfare mother's irresponsibility?
It seems simple enough to me, but it took the Clinton
Administration months to respond to our request. Then, in twisted
logic that could only make sense to Washington, the Clinton
Administration decided we could stop rewarding adults for having
more and more children on welfare...but they insisted we had to
continue rewarding teenagers for the same irresponsible
Well, I've got news for them: Having more and more children on
welfare is wrong whether you're and adult or a teenager. That's why
I refuse to accept this absurd condition from President Clinton.
Today, I'm rejecting President Clinton's half-baked waiver and
insisting that he live up to his promise. Mr. President, grant this
waiver and every other waiver California has requested as you
promised you would...with no strings attached. It's what you
promised the American people. Have the guts to keep your word.
Unfortunately, like a lot of voters, I'm skeptical he will.
And his continued failure to reform welfare is why action in the
Congress is so important. Congress is our last best hope for real
reform. When the House passed welfare reform in less than 100 days,
a skeptical public were given a glimmer of hope that things might
really be changing in Washington. But then, welfare reform landed
in the Senate.
More and more, the Senate looks like the graveyard for the
Contract with America. 0n the balanced budget amendment. On tax
cuts. On the crime bill. And now, on welfare reform. The Senate's
continued delay holds states hostage to the whims of Bill Clinton's
welfare bureaucrats. We are compelled to wrench reform from hostile
guardians of the status quo.
Worse yet, the compromises being cut in the Senate raise serious
doubts as to whether the Senate Republican Leader really
understands the mandate voters gave us last November to make
drastic change. There's been plenty of hot rhetoric on the Senate
floor about freeing states from federal mandates. But under the
Dole welfare compromise, states would be denied the chance to make
even the most basic decisions. In many cases, Senator Dole would
simply leave us with watered-down version of current law.
For example, Senator Dole's compromise would continue to set the
minimum level a state must spend on welfare. A similar, so-called
"maintenance of effort requirement" in current law is what's
preventing me from saving taxpayers $3 million a week. Why would a
Republican committed to fundamental change support a federal
mandate like that? Congress has no business dictating terms like
that to the states. California is a proud and sovereign state, not
a colony of the federal government.
In another concession to Senate liberals, Senator Dole has
agreed to extend federal disability benefits to individuals whose
only disability is self-inflicting drug and alcohol abuse. Today,
nearly 100,000 individuals collect such benefits. And the number
grew nearly six-fold in five years. But why should that surprise
us? What alcoholic would pass up a chance to have the taxpayers
pick up their bar tab?
That's why the House welfare bill ended this absurd practice
next month. The budget I just signed would end these benefits on
the same day. But Senator Dole's bill would force us to continue
paying these benefits for more than a year. In California alone,
that would cost taxpayers more than $1 million a week. That's not
only an insult to taxpayers, it's an outrage for the federal
government to be subsidizing someone's addiction. As the head of
one homeless shelter described it, it's "suicide on the installment
It's wrong and it's got to stop.
Yet, even as Senator Dole is imposing these indefensible
mandates on the states, he's ignoring the one crisis that deserves
national attention -- the epidemic of out-of-wedlock teen births.
Today, one in tree children is born out of wedlock. In some of
America's largest cities, more children are born to unmarried women
than into two-parent families. And the 14-year-old girl who becomes
an unwed mother is all too likely to give birth to a girl who will
become a 14-year-old unwed mother herself, or a boy who will become
a 14-year-old triggerman for a drug gang.
If Senator Dole is truly concerned about the crisis of values in
America, he should not be content with talking about the perverse
values promoted by our popular media. He should start doing
something about the perverse values promoted by the federal welfare
system. The Contract with America included many reforms we've made
in California to stem this crisis of illegitimacy. It stops
rewarding women with bigger welfare checks for having more and more
children out-of-wedlock. Yet, Senator Dole excluded this important
change from the Senate version of the bill. He was unwilling to
include this fundamental reform.
It is not leadership to settle for less than the fundamental
change we need by cutting deals which compromise our values. We
must demand nothing less than the courage and conviction to make
fundamental change in policy...if we're to have any hope of
changing a tragically permissive culture. America deserves better,
and must demand it.
If we make these changes, we'll free millions of Americans from
the chains of dependency that stifle opportunity. We'll renew the
dream of a nation where work is respected and rewarded and where
rights are balanced by responsibility.
The biggest mistake we can make is to be too timid in our
reforms. The task we face is great, but we dare not miss this
opportunity. It may not come again soon. Thank you, very much. Now,
I'd be happy to take your questions.
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