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Welfare Reform Turns 15 – Rachel Sheffield

08/23/2011

Fifteen years ago today, after lengthy battles between a Republican-led Congress and a Democratic White House, President Bill Clinton signed into law the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, otherwise known as welfare reform. Among other changes, the act inserted work requirements and time limits into the nation’s largest cash assistance welfare program.

As a result, five years after the reform, 3.5 million fewer individuals lived in poverty, and the poverty rate for black children dropped to its lowest level in the nation’s history.

However, there have been dramatic limits to the 1996 reform. First, the reform itself has been eviscerated. For many years, Democrats in the Senate blocked reauthorization of the reform law. In addition, states found loopholes to evade the reform’s pro-work provisions. As a result, the federal work requirements, which were the main factor driving dependency reduction, became meaningless: Welfare reform has been moribund for roughly a decade …

Read More at Heritage Foundation.

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