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
-- Robert Kuttner, 2002, in the American Prospect, "The Left's Marriage Problem," The Washington Post, April 5, 2002
welfare reform bill] is a switch "from tough love to sticks and
-- Indiana Rep. Tim Roemer, "Democrats Welfare Bill Halted," Washington Times, May 2, 2002.
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.
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
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
-- The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, "The New Welfare Law," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 13, 1996
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
-- The Urban Institute, "Urban Institute Study Confirms that Welfare Bills Would Increase Child Poverty," Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, July 26, 1996
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
moral equivalent of a Dear John letter" to poor people.
-- California Senator Dianne Feinstein, describing the reform bill, Houston Chronicle, August 2, 1996
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
-- Former Illinois Senator Paul Simon, on President Clinton, Houston Chronicle, August 2, 1996
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
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
-- Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Orlando Sentinel, August 2, 1996
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
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
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
status quo is working."
-- Former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, The Baltimore Sun, June 24, 1995
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
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
reform should not punish people "because they happen to be
-- President Bill Clinton, USA Today, January 25, 1995
The Good News About Welfare Reform by Robert Rector and Patrick F. Fagan
- Continuing to Transform Welfare: The Next Bold--and Compassionate--Step by The Honorable Tommy G. Thompson
Heritage's Welfare Research Center