Bill Clinton’s first presidential term was a surprising change period in policy toward low-income families. In 1993 Congress enacted a major development of the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income working families. In 1996 Congress passed and the president signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (PRWORA). This legislation abolished the sixty-year-old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program and replaced it with a block grant program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. However, it not only restricted the recipients with firm new work requirements but also limited the length of time people could receive welfare benefits.
Impressive change in AFDC was also happening gradually in the states during these years. States used waivers granted by the federal Department of Health and Human Services to experiment with various welfare strategies, including denial of additional benefits for children born or conceived while a mother received AFDC, work requirements, and time limits on receipt of cash benefits. The speed of change at the state level accelerated after the 1996 federal welfare reform legislation gave states better flexibility to design their programs.
Until 1996, there was a situation of overwhelming public rejection of existing AFDC program. Candidate Clinton promised in his 1992 election campaign to “end welfare as we know it.”
In his book Ending Welfare as We Know It the author calls the political environment in 1996 as a chaos that it was nearly impossible “political fluke” to make that reform. The book examines how social factors and political institutions act upon each other.
Firstly, the author gives examples of President Nixon’s Family Assistance Plan and President Carter’s Program for Better Jobs and Incomes how focused on guaranteed income with work requirements.
Second issue, the author argues about the “enormous agenda change” in recent welfare reforms. The Family Support Act of 1988 focused on training and work requirements for welfare recipients. Providing incentives to low-benefit states would increase their benefit levels; however the incentives were not enacted at that time.
With the new law, there could be high probability of making poor children even poorer. As a result welfare reform would fail again. In the first chapter, readers were introduced to problems and drawbacks of the previous and new welfare legislation.
In chapter 2 and chapter 3, the author provides some information for questions like, why did the president Bill Clinton sign a Republican welfare bill in 1996 after two earlier vetoes?
In earlier chapters, Weaver explains the problem of child poverty in the United States. Chapter 3 judges policy makers choices in...