Monday, August 21, 2006

Welfare reform needs tweaking

I was one of those critics of welfare reform back in the 1990s who feared that it would be a disaster, especially when the economy took a downturn (which it did as soon as the incompetent George W. Bush took charge).
So I was pleasantly surprised to see that my worst fears were not confirmed in this case.
The number of people on welfare plunged by 60 percent, employment among single mothers is up and child support collections have nearly doubled since the law was changed.
But while these changes have been good, there has been a slight uptick in the poverty rate among single women since Bush has been in office. One researcher says there has been a “disconcerting increase in the number of poor mothers with no obvious source of income.”
Some of the answers are obvious and once we get some responsible leadership in the White House they will likely be addressed quickly. We need to increase the minimum wage to catch up with a decade of inflation and make it a livable wage once again (without breaking the bank by giving a huge windfall of tax cuts to the super- ultra-wealthy). And if we are going to insist that these single mothers work, we must spend more on child care programs.
These are the kinds of things that can be done without reversing the positive aspects of the Clinton-era reforms.

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