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July 11, 2002

Welfare Quotes: They Said It

By

Opponents of the 1996 welfare reform legislation mounted aggressive attacks claiming the bill would hurt and impoverish millions of children and single mothers. Indeed, the opposite is true. The reforms have been incredibly successful and should be renewed and expanded this year. See Welfare Reform: More Work to be Done.

[Referring to the marriage provision] "Shotgun welfare betrothals."
-- Robert Kuttner, 2002, in the American Prospect, "The Left's Marriage Problem," The Washington Post, April 5, 2002

[The welfare reform bill] is a switch "from tough love to sticks and sanctions."
-- Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, "Democrats Welfare Bill Halted," Washington Times, May 2, 2002.

[The new welfare reform law] is "awful" policy that would do "serious injury to American children.... There will be more malnutrition and more crime, increased infant mortality, and increased drug and alcohol abuse. There will be increased family violence and abuse against children and women." [The bill would fail even in the simple task of "effectively" promoting work because "there simply are not enough jobs now."
-- Peter Edelman, " The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done," The Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 279, No. 3 (March 1997), pp. 43-58.

[The new welfare law] "places 12.8 million people on welfare at risk of sinking further into poverty and homelessness."
-- Patricia Ireland, "Welfare Bill Further Endangers Domestic Violence Survivor," National NOW Times, January 1997

[The new law] would increase the number of children who are poor and make many children who are already poor poorer... No piece of legislation in U.S. history has increased the severity of poverty so sharply.
-- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "The New Welfare Law," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 13, 1996

[The welfare reform law] would push 2.6 million people, including 1.1 million children, into poverty, and would cause one-tenth of all American families, including 8 million families with children, to lose income.
-- The Urban Institute, "Urban Institute Study Confirms that Welfare Bills Would Increase Child Poverty," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 26, 1996

[The welfare reform law] would increase "child poverty nationwide by 12% ... make children hungrier ... [and] reduce the incomes of one-fifth of all families with children in the nation." They further declared the new reform law an "outrage ... that will hurt and impoverish millions of American children." [The reform] "will leave a moral blot on [Clinton's] presidency and on our nation that will never be forgotten."
-- Children's Defense Fund, "How the Welfare Bill Profoundly Harms Children," July 31, 1996

"The moral equivalent of a Dear John letter" to poor people.
-- California Senator Dianne Feinstein, describing the reform bill, Houston Chronicle, August 2, 1996

"He is marring his legacy by signing this bill. He may gain a few more votes on Nov. 5, but he is hurting history's judgment of his performance."
-- Former Illinois Senator Paul Simon, on President Clinton, Houston Chronicle, August 2, 1996

"This legislation will substantially increase poverty and destitution. Adding that the bill's supporters have the mistaken impression that "making the lives of children miserable" will somehow help in "reforming their mothers" who may be caught in a cycle of dependency on welfare.
-- Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Houston Chronicle, August 2, 1996

The welfare bill "terminates the basic federal commitment to support dependent children." It endangers the children "with absolutely no evidence that this radical idea has even the slightest chance of success. The current batch in the White House now busily assuring us that they were against this legislation all along are simply lying, albeit they probably don't know when they are lying. They have only the flimsiest grasp of social reality, thinking anything doable and equally undoable. As, for example, the horror of this legislation."
-- Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Orlando Sentinel, August 2, 1996

"Beating up on our children by passing this ... in an election year is nothing to be proud of."
-- Florida Rep. Corrine Brown, Orlando Sentinel, August 1, 1996

"My president will boldly throw 1 million into poverty."
-- New York Rep. Charles Rangel, Orlando Sentinel, August 1, 1996

"It is a cleverly concocted scam that does do not do a single thing."
-- Robert Greenstein, director, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, The Star-Ledger Newark, N.J., September 5, 1995

"This approach would punish the innocent children of unmarried teen-agers for the mistakes of their parents."
-- President Bill Clinton in his weekly radio address, quoted in the Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, July 9, 1995

"The status quo is working."
-- Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Baltimore Sun, June 24, 1995

"I'm in favor of welfare reform. There are a lot of things we've got to do, but starving kids is not one of them."
-- U.S. Rep Ron Klink, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, March 14, 1995

"We have no intention of abandoning the American people to unproven theories and extreme positions. We're the people party and we're going to stick up for the people."
-- President Bill Clinton, The Star-Ledger Newark, N.J., February 23, 1995

Welfare reform should not punish people "because they happen to be poor."
-- President Bill Clinton, USA Today, January 25, 1995

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