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Welfare Reform

Despite a bitterly divided government in 1996, Congress passed and President Bill Clinton signed into law one of the most sweeping changes to the country’s welfare system. Welfare programs had long been a political dividing line between liberals and conservatives, but by 1996, the threat of intergenerational dependency on government welfare was clear to members of both parties. The Congress, working with the White House, walked a tightrope that made welfare opponents and supporters alternately elated and enraged. Work requirements and child support enforcement were strengthened (a Republican goal), while spending on education and child care was increased (a Democratic goal). Years later, President Clinton wrote that “I was widely criticized by liberals who thought the work requirements too harsh and conservatives who thought the work incentives too generous.” But sometimes, that’s what compromise is.

1996-01-01 00:00:00

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