Blog Archive - 2001

Critics Blast Bush’s Call for “Lengthy Campaign”

WASHINGTON – When President Bush took the national pulpit on September 20 to address a joint session of Congress, he faced perhaps his greatest challenge since his inauguration. Mainstream media pundits spoke at length of his need to rise to the occasion — to solidify the nation\’s commitment to fighting terrorism. With the chamber\’s applause still audible, the reports were already coming out. Bush\’s approval rating had risen ten more points, to an astronomical 91 percent. His singling out of common citizens — some of whom sat in the audience — had captured the allegiance of skeptics. His calls for justice constituted the uncompromising stance that United States politics needed to embody during such a period of national crisis.

Amidst all of this praise, numerous critics spoke out against the presidential call for war.

“In Bush’s speech we got no doctrine, no strategy, no evidence,” said Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies. “What we did get was a lot of Wild West rhetoric — dead or alive material.” [Read more...]

Rethinking Welfare Reform

WASHINGTON — With re-authorization of key “welfare reform” legislation due in the coming year, activists are mobilizing to place the rights of minorities and women foremost on the agenda. Many indict the current system — established by the 1996 passage of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act — as a racist and gender-biased structure that keeps the poor in poverty and further burdens disadvantaged families.

The five-year-old legislation has in fact reduced welfare rolls. A White House report in 2000 said that the number of Americans on welfare had decreased from 5.5 percent in 1993 to 2.3 percent in 1999. An argument now rages over whether the point of reform is to reduce the welfare rolls or to reduce poverty. Some activists maintain that these numbers reflect a slashing of America’s “safety net.”

“Welfare rolls dropped by more than half nationally since 1996, but poverty for single mothers is only down 0.7 percent,” reports Ann Withorn, professor of social policy at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. Withorn is a co-author of “An Immodest Proposal,” a series of demands collected by the feminist Women’s Committee of 100 that challenge the gender and race discrimination they find rampant in current welfare legislation. The document contains demands for an end to mandatory work outside the home, a “caregiver’s allowance” that reimburses mothers for work they do inside the home, and a substantial increase in labor standards for women. [Read more...]