NJ For Change

Friday, May 05, 2006

Welfare Reform Worked

There is an excellent article in City Journal - How Welfare Reform Worked – by Kay Hymowitz that I have meaning to bring to your attention.

It’s instructive to look back and remember what the pundits and politicians were saying ten years ago when welfare reform was first enacted and compare those opinions with reality today.

Hymowitz reminds us Democrats called the reform anti-family, anti-child, mean-spirited and warned of impending third world-style poverty. Children would be begging for money and food - eight and nine year olds would be forced into prostitution.

“[A]s New Jersey senator Frank Lautenberg put it. “They are coming for the children.” Senator Ted Kennedy called it “legislative child abuse.” Marion Wright Edelman of the Children’s Defense Fund called the bill “national child abandonment” and likened it to the burning of Vietnamese villages.”

The New York Times proclaimed the legislation “draconian” and a “sad day for poor children.” The Atlantic Monthly called signing the Republican bill “The Worst Thing Bill Clinton Has Done.”

So what actually happened? Were the scaremongers and poverty pimps on target with their dire predictions? In a word, ‘no’. President Clinton considers welfare reform his singular achievement and the New York Times now trumpets the legislation as “one of the acclaimed successes of the past decade.” Here’s why:

Most welfare leavers had more money than when they were on welfare. The poverty rate for single women with children fell from 42 percent in 1996 to 34 percent in 2002; before 1996, it had never in recorded history been below 40 percent. This was the first boom ever where poverty declined faster for that group than for married-couple families.

This, then, is where we find ourselves today, ten years after reform: a record number of poor single mothers off the dole and the majority of them gainfully employed; less poverty among single mothers, especially black single mothers, as well as their kids

More striking was what happened to rates of child poverty. They not only went down; by 2001, they hit all-time lows for black children.

After 1996, juvenile violence and teen pregnancy continued to go down, as they had since the early nineties.
Read the article, it’s excellent and keep the welfare reform example in mind the next time the usual suspects start screaming the sky is falling.
4 Comments:
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