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III. New Community -
"I believe we must end welfare as we know it, because the
current welfare system is a bad deal for taxpayers who pay the bills
and for the families who are trapped on it. The American people deserve
a government that honors their values and spends their money
judiciously, and a country that rewards people who work hard and play by
-- President Clinton
December 8, 1994
The President wants welfare reform that reinforces basic
American values -- work, responsibility, and family -- not punishes
children for their parents' mistakes.
The President is optimistic that Democrats and Republicans working
together can produce meaningful welfare reform. Now that the House has
completed its work, the President hopes to work with the Senate to
develop a proposal that truly ends welfare by requiring and promoting
work and parental responsibility, while helping not hurting
Welfare reform should be about work. Welfare should provide people
the opportunity to move from welfare to work as qu ickly as possible.
In return, people must take responsibility for supporting themselves
and their families. All those who can work must go to work to support
Welfare should be a second chance, not a way of life. No one who can
work should be able to stay on welfare forever.
We must reward work over welfare. No one who works full time should
have to raise a child in poverty. That's why we increased the Earned
Income Tax Credit for 15 million working Americans, why our we
lfare plan included an increase in child care, and why we proposed
expanding health care coverage.
We must hold BOTH parents responsible for their
That's why we proposed the toughest child support enforcement
measures ever - suspending drivers' licenses, tracking delinquent
parents across state lines, and letting states make them work off what
We also want to reduce teen pregnancy - young people
must understand the responsibilities involved before they get pregnant
or father a child. That's why the President has called for a National
Campaign Against Teen Pregnancy.
The President is firmly committed to giving states the
flexibility to fix the welfare system at the local level.
That's why we have granted half the states waivers to proceed with
And that's why the administration wants to eliminate the need for
waivers, letting states work within broad federal rules to decide how
best to meet their needs.
The Proposals House Republicans Have Pursued Are Weak on Work and
Cruel to Kids.
House Republicans have used welfare reform as a cover for their real
priority -- finding ways to pay for tax breaks for the wealthy.
These proposals include block granting successful nutrition programs
such as school lunch and WIC and reducing food stamp benefits by $16
billion over five years.
The Republicans propose cutting off benefits to mothers and their
children until the mothers are 18. We propose requiring these young
mothers to live at home, stay in school, and take the steps necessary to
get their lives on track.
The administration is pushing for:
Tougher work requirements that help states move people from
welfare to work.
The toughest possible child support enforcement,
including penalties that threaten delinquent parents with losing drivers
and professional licenses if they refuse to pay their child support.
Tougher, smarter ways to demand responsible behavior and reduce teen
pregnancy, not just punish people because they're poor, young and
unmarried; and real flexibility for the states, not new mandates and
The President Has a Lengthy History of Commitment to
As Chairman of the National Governors' Association, the President
helped guide the 1988 Family Support Act to passage, working with a
Democratic Congress and a Republican President.
As Governor of Arkansas, Clinton made the state a leader in both
welfare reform and child support enforcement.
The President has given 29 states the flexibility to reform welfare
at the local level and has signed an executive order making it easier to
force federal employees to sign the child support they
The administration introduced the Work and Responsibility Act (WRA) last
year - the most comprehensive welfare reform legislation a President has
ever proposed. President Clinton hosted a bipartisan working session at
the White House in January with leaders from all levels of government,
and the administration will continue to pursue a bipartisan approach. The
House passed welfare reform legislation on March 24th, on a vote that
was almost strictly along party lines. The President commended the House
for moving forward on the issue and for including all of the child
support provisions from the WRA last year, but he was critical of other
aspects of the bill, and the Administration's line on the bill gene
rally was: not tough enough on work, too harsh on children.