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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 the rules."
-- 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 children.
Welfare reform should be about work. Welfare should provide people the opportunity to move from welfare to work as quickly 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 their families.
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 welfare plan included an increase in child care, and why we proposed expanding health care coverage.
We must hold BOTH parents responsible for their children.
That's why we proposed the toughest child support enforcement measures ever - suspending drivers' licenses, trackingdelinquent parents across state lines, and letting states make them work off what they owe.
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 welfare reform.
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 (4) real flexibility for the states, not new mandates and less money.
The President Has a Lengthy History of Commitment to Welfare Reform
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 owe.
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 generally was: not tough enough on work, too harsh on children. The Senate has held its first hearings, but no action on specific legislation is expected until May at the earliest.IV. New Government Return to Table of Contents