Excerpts from Newspaper Editorials from Around the Country on Welfare Reform

For Immediate Release:

February 11, 2003

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California

San Jose Mercury News, January 17, 2003

"This is not the time for the federal government to skimp on welfare programs, or to burden states with additional expenses. If Bush truly wants to help people become and remain independent, protect children and strengthen families, he will soften his approach."

Los Angeles Times, Be Flexible on Welfare Rules, May 18, 2002

"States need flexibility in defining "work" to allow some recipients to attend school, learn English or take training so they can get hired."

San Francisco Chronicle, Welfare Proposals Bad for Business, July 2, 2002

"If it passes, the U.S. House of Representatives' welfare plan would negatively affect local businesses - by reducing the quality of the labor supply…Employers want to hire welfare recipients who are prepared to go to work and have the skills to stay and succeed on the job. Employers lose money and confidence if they hire someone off the welfare rolls who does not possess the necessary job skills. If the public and nonprofit systems are no longer able to provide welfare recipients with basic education or skills training, employers will cease to tap into this important labor pool."

San Francisco Chronicle, On Welfare Reform: The Measure of Success, July 14, 2002

"Led by the Bush administration, House Republicans have already passed legislation that would increase the work requirement from 30 to 40 hours a week, without providing sufficient funds for additional child care. The Bush proposal would also curtail the amount of education, training, counseling and treatment that have helped parents find and keep jobs."

Florida

Orlando Sentinel, Reforming Welfare; Our Position: Allowing More Money for Child Care and Health Care is Necessary, July 4, 2002

"At the current, inadequate funding level, federal child-care assistance covers only one in seven eligible children of low-income working parents. At least 20 states, including Florida, have waiting lists. It makes no sense to increase the need for such assistance by insisting that more welfare recipients enter the work force without providing the additional dollars necessary to make it feasible."

Georgia

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Skills, Child Care Essential for 'No Welfare' to Work,
September 24, 2002

"President Bush extols the value of education for everyone - except welfare recipients. For those on public assistance, Bush insists on work over training, a shortsighted strategy that will reduce welfare rolls without reducing poverty."

"The welfare 'success' stories cited by the White House are not living in tidy suburban starter homes with a minivan in the driveway and a few bucks in the bank. In reality, most former welfare recipients are struggling single mothers rising at dawn to drop their children at low-quality day care centers and then running to catch a bus to a dead-end job that pays barely enough to cover the rent. These women desperately need child care, transportation, job training and other work supports. Without that help, their children will remain locked in poverty, the surest road to education failure and a new generation of welfare dependency."

Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Don't Penalize Children for Parents Going to Work,
May 22, 2002

"An increased demand for time on the job without a companion increase in child care dollars places stresses on fragile families. Children suffer in unstable day care arrangements, and their mothers are more likely to land back on welfare. Research shows that day care is often the fence that keeps a woman from making the transition from welfare to work."

"The welfare recipients who failed to find work in the booming '90s were those with few skills or with substance abuse or mental health problems --- hardly a subset likely to do well in a weakened economy. They represent the hardest-to-place cases for whom self-sufficiency will be impossible without drug treatment, training and education, the very things the Republican proposal undercuts."

Illinois

Chicago Tribune, Fixing What Ain't Broke, May 12, 2002

"Bush's plan would limit participation in job training and treatment programs to no more than three months in any three-year period---a proposal that appears to have been constructed in La-La Land."

Indiana

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Bush Plan to Freeze Financing will Cripple Welfare Reform, January 30, 2003

"…President Bush announced a plan last week that clearly kicks the legs out from under those struggling to replace government assistance with a paycheck. In freezing financing for the next five years - with no adjustment for inflation - the federal government will effectively cut support for child care and job training, leaving more low-income Americans without a job or a safety net. If Congress can afford $670 billion in tax cuts heavily favoring the wealthiest households, it can't afford not to approve a welfare reauthorization bill that doesn't stop reform dead in its tracks."

Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, Two Steps Back for Welfare Reform, January 24, 2003

"The president's latest proposal undermines rather than improves on efforts to overhaul public assistance…If lawmakers want to build on the hopeful gains made since 1996, they must reject Bush's proposal. They must approve a bill that supports education and job-training programs. Without them, welfare recipients will end up in state workfare programs instead of jobs that offer livable wages and opportunities to advance. They must support child-care subsidies, so that women can afford safe, quality care for their children. They must give states the flexibility to provide food stamps, transportation subsidies and medical insurance so they can make the transition to work even if their first jobs are low-skill, low-paying positions."

Iowa

Des Moines Register, Make them work? Where?, January 17, 2003

"Rather than maintaining the current system to see how it weathers a weakened economy, the Bush administration is proposing that recipients be required to work a 40-hour week. With high unemployment rates right now, where will those people find jobs?.... Increasing work expectations in a faltering economy is like playing a sick joke on the poor. A marriage initiative is just an attempt to tie ideological strings to public assistance. Less money for children who need quality child care is unconscionable. It's impossible to find the compassion in this conservatism."

Kentucky

Lexington Herald-Leader, A Bad Scene, January 31, 2003

"About 2,000 more Kentucky children than expected have qualified for subsidies this year. At that rate, the $321 million available for subsidies will be $16 million short of what's needed. And that's before the tightening in welfare eligibility that Bush recently urged Congress to enact…State government, most of which is looking at a 9 percent funding cut next year, is in no position to pick up the federal share of child care, even if the legislature raises taxes…A country that can afford $670 billion in tax cuts, mostly favoring the rich, surely can afford decent day care for children of the working poor."

Lexington Herald-Leader, Welfare Reform: Education, Job Training Should be Preserved, June 26, 2002

"The House bill mandates that more recipients work 40 hours a week, all the while providing inadequate child care assistance and ignoring the fact that even skilled workers are losing jobs in the current economic downturn…Education pays in higher income, less crime, better help and more civic involvement. Kentucky cannot afford to lose what leverage it has to change the lives of poor women and their children."

Massachusetts

Boston Globe, January 16, 2003

"Hard work is a virtue, But Bush's 40-hour push is bad policy…. If Bush really wants to increase work, he should spend much more on child care-especially since economically wounded states are cutting funding for these programs."

Boston Globe, No on Superwaivers, June 4, 2001

"Superwaivers are a rude affront to basic civics. A pillar of United States democracy is the separation of federal powers into three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. Throwing off this balance amounts to a philosophical assault. Superwaivers also show how policy tinkering causes some legislators to lose sight of basic principles…In its debates over welfare reform, the Senate should defuse the destructive power of superwaivers. The work of government must be to protect people and democratic traditions. Superwaivers do neither."

Minnesota

Minneapolis Star Tribune, A Job Half-Done / Helping Poor Families Move Forward,
May 26, 2002

"...Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have passed a welfare bill that takes a dangerous step backward. Rather than addressing the next generation of problems for the nation's poor, the House bill reverts to the tired rhetoric of 1996: the myth that welfare parents are lazy deadbeats and the conviction that tougher rules will solve the problem. But the bill's most troubling aspect is the misconception that welfare reform can be accomplished on the cheap."

Minneapolis Star Tribune, Better Jobs / Don't Foreclose Education,
May 30, 2002

"During two years in Minnesota's welfare-to-work program, Jeremy and Julie Carlsness pursued a patient, if grueling, path. He went to school for an engineering degree, she worked part time at their church and studied part time for a nursing diploma. Together they raised three children and a baby. But their strategy worked: Today he earns almost $14 an hour working for the city of Superior, Wis., and she has a career in health care. The Duluth couple should count as a success in the great experiment known as welfare reform. But not according to Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives. The welfare-reauthorization bill they passed this month would foreclose the kind of schooling that Jeremy Carlsness pursued and require states to push most recipients into the first available job or workfare slot.... The irony of the House bill is that it promotes a 'work-first' strategy, even though most states have rejected that approach since Congress gave them latitude to experiment in 1996.... 'If you force people to take a $7 job, you're just forcing them to stay on assistance,' says Julie Carlsness. 'That's just a vicious cycle.'"

Missouri

St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Try the Progressive Approach, September 21, 2002

"When the Senate takes up legislation to reauthorize the welfare reform law, it must correct regressive work requirements and child care provisions in the bill passed by the House. Missouri needs to do better, just as Congress must do better about welfare in general. The Senate should make education, job training and child care - not a tougher work requirement - the foundation of the next phase of welfare reform."

New Mexico

Albuquerque Journal, September 21, 2002

"…Congress must not impose on parents the requirement of forced 40-hour weeks; such jobs and child care are difficult to find in the current economy, and most adults on welfare are single mothers. The minimum should remain at 30 hours."

"Education must be encouraged, not discouraged; it offers the best chance for welfare parents to find work that will pay enough to take them out of poverty."

New York

New York Times, Then There are the Poor, January 22, 2003

"It may not be class warfare, but it's breathtakingly provocative. One week after President Bush proposed billions in tax breaks for fretful stock owners, he revived a plan to wring an additional 10 hours of work each week from women with small children who are managing to hold a job under the federal welfare reform program. The program was hailed as an early success in reducing the welfare rolls. But it is now being threatened with ideological wrenching under the Bush proposal. Not only would the marginal working mother on welfare face a 40-hour week - six hours more than the national average for all women with young children - but funding would be frozen for child care, transportation and all the other things she needs to make it possible for her to work in the first place."

New York Times, Better Welfare Reform, June 25, 2002

"Legal immigrants are frequently the parents of American citizens or children who will become citizens later. It makes no sense to deprive them of help to meet their basic needs. The Bush administration endorsed giving legal immigrants food stamps. Although the House bill ignores them completely, legal immigrants should be entitled to welfare benefits and to Medicaid and child health benefits as well."

"Measures to extend benefits to the poor and provide child care for parents struggling to hold jobs are widely opposed in Congress because they allegedly cost too much. Yet some of the same people opposing these measures favor tax cuts, including estate tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans. There is one word to describe their priorities: disgraceful. A society that wants to encourage work should be a society that provides its neediest population with the means to reach that goal."

Ohio

Cleveland Plain Dealer, Clearing Obstacles, September 7, 2002

"...a House bill that is stingy with child care vouchers...yet mandates greater work hours. Welfare reform has shown that work is the answer to poverty, but so are government services that help welfare mothers stay on the job."

Pennsylvania

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Welfare Re-Reform/Encourage Work, but Preserve Flexibility, July 7, 2002

"In Pennsylvania, the tougher federal work requirements would force the state to dismantle some of the programs created to assist poor parents trying to move from welfare to work in order to pay for costly "make work" programs."

Washington

Seattle Times, Welfare Reform: Don't Go Backwards, May 5, 2002

"So, how do we build on our success? The answer will not be found in the White House's plan for the next phase of welfare reform…Such a get-tough gambit - running headlong into rising unemployment and stalled economies - might force Washington state to return to make-work projects already rejected because they offered recipients little experience and rarely resulted in unsubsidized jobs."

"Research shows that investing heavily in job training and child care removes the largest barriers to finding work. Washington has spent nearly all of its welfare savings on child care. Congress must provide more money for child care if parents are to work. The federal government must also provide benefits for legal immigrants. They are taxpaying citizens."

Washington D.C.

Washington Post, Working on Welfare, January 25, 2003

"In principle, there is nothing wrong with using the reauthorization to send a message to welfare recipients - or rather to repeat the message that was sent by the 1996 law. It is only by working, after all, that welfare recipients will eventually escape poverty altogether. But in practice, the need to account for the 40 hours (or to dodge the requirement altogether, as many would) would put a big burden on state welfare bureaucracies and would risk putting a damper on whatever creativity states have shown in their efforts to reduce caseloads and help people into the workforce…In considering the reauthorization, Congress should take into account this need for flexibility…"

Washington Post, Toward a Better Welfare Bill, June 26, 2002

"The ugly underside of the 1996 welfare reform bill was the way it stripped legal immigrants of eligibility for many forms of federal aid. In the intervening years Congress has repaired some of the damage, most recently voting this spring to restore food stamp eligibility to immigrants who have been in the country for at least five years…Providing prenatal care and regular medical coverage for poor children can save money in the long run by dealing with ailments before they drive patients to emergency rooms. That's why 22 states have stepped in to provide some coverage for legal immigrants with their own money; Congress ought to help out."

"With all sides pushing for more recipients to move into jobs, the need for child care will only increase. Adequate funding is critical. The goal is to move families and children out of poverty: Providing enough money to ensure that children are properly cared for while their parents work is a critical component."

Wisconsin

LaCrosse Tribune, States Need Help on Welfare Issues, January 22, 2003

"President Bush has set tough new goals for former welfare recipients to be working. But he overestimates the amount of flexibility that states have during an economic downtown. And he also downplays the amount of help that former welfare recipients need with child care, transportation and other assistance that can pull them through the transition from welfare to work.... The plan could be setting states up for failure, as the federal assistance effectively goes down while the requirements go up - and in a struggling economy at that.... We need a working partnership between federal and state officials - not inflexible rules and declining financial support."

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Reforming Welfare Reform, April 30, 2002

"A better bill would mostly keep the present work requirements, giving the states room to shape their own approaches for increasing self-sufficiency. A better bill would include new initiatives to make work pay by placing greater emphasis on training and education - key roads out of poverty. A better bill would shore up subsidies for day care and transportation, without which low-wage work may not be practical. The House should pass a better bill."

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Reforming Welfare Reform: Update, August 18, 2002

"True welfare reform entails much more than booting families off the rolls or even just putting parents in jobs. The goal should be to protect children from the ravages of poverty. One way to meet that goal is to give parents work that pays well - which means giving them skills."

West Virginia

Dominion Post (Morgantown), A Hole in Our Safety Net: Bush's Proposal for Welfare Reform Would Do More Harm Than Good, August 1, 2002

"On a human level, especially in West Virginia, the proposal backed by the President would do more harm than good and continue poverty rather than help eradicate it. Bush believes welfare recipients should work a 40-hour week, but he also believes that taking college classes or getting additional job training should not count toward that 40-hour work-week requirement. He also believes that subsidies for child care obtained by welfare recipients should not increase. In West Virginia we know that getting additional education and job training are essential for moving people out of poverty. So, too, is the availability of affordable child care. Removing those opportunities would harm thousands of West Virginians."