February 13, 2016

How Kasich and the Clintons joined to hurt the poor

Intercept - Republican presidential candidate John Kasich has promoted himself both as a friend of the working poor and as a foe of Hillary Clinton, but as House Budget Committee chairman in the 1990s, he worked with the Clintons to roll back welfare programs, helping double extreme poverty in America.

In 1996, the Clinton administration and congressional Republicans worked hand in hand to pass what they called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, colloquially known as “welfare reform.”

The legislation famously “ended welfare as we know it,” replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. The newly-created TANF placed a time limit on how long the federal government would extend financial assistance to poor families.

Kasich was one of the legislation’s prime movers. After clashes between Clinton and the Republicans over earlier versions of the bill, Kasich introduced what went on to become the final legislation in June 1996. By late July, the administration and the Republicans had solved their disagreements, and a conference bill coasted to passage by a 328-101 vote (Bernie Sanders, another presidential contender, opposed it).

.... Bill and Hillary Clinton both advocated strongly for the changes.... Hillary Clinton was involved with publicly advocating for passage and implementation of welfare reform in her role as First Lady. In a Newsweek cover story in 1993, she weighed in on the upcoming welfare reform debate. “How do we as a society address the 15-year-old mother on welfare? What do we owe her? Can we demand a set of behavioral standards from her?” asked the interviewer. “Sure, I’ve been talking about that since 1973,” replied the First Lady. “You know, I am one of the first people who wrote about how rights and responsibilities had to go hand in hand.”

“When you talk about moving someone to work from welfare in two years, what happens to people who don’t want to work? Would you impose sanctions?” followed up the interviewer. “Oh, I think you have to. What happened in Arkansas is that people who refused for whatever reason to participate had their benefits cut,” she replied.

Hillary Clinton continued to defend the welfare cutback over the years. “Too many of those on welfare had known nothing but dependency all their lives, and many would have found it difficult to make the transition to work on their own,” she wrote in a 1999 op-ed. In a 2002 interview she said the policy has resulted in recipients “no longer” being “deadbeats — they’re actually out there being productive.” Hillary Clinton’s advocacy for welfare reform strained her relationship with her mentor and former boss, Marian Wright Edelman, the head of the Children’s Defense Fund. After the signing of the bill, Edelman wrote that “President Clinton’s signature on this pernicious bill makes a mockery of his pledge not to hurt children.”

During an interview on Democracy Now in 2007, Edelman described her changed relationship with the Clintons, saying, “Hillary Clinton is an old friend, but they are not friends in politics.”

During her 2008 campaign for the presidency, Clinton defended the policy, saying, “Welfare should have been a temporary way station for people who needed immediate assistance. It should not be considered an anti-poverty program. It simply did not work.”


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