News Release

Welfare: Bipartisan Success?

LIZ ACCLES
Accles is national coordinator for the Welfare Made A Difference National Campaign, which today launched a public education drive. Accles can arrange interviews with current and former welfare recipients; some of their stories are available on the web page.
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FRANCES FOX PIVEN
Piven is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate School and University Center of the City University of New York. Her books include The Breaking of the American Social Compact. Piven said today: “The welfare rolls are down and politicians, the media, everyone touts the success of welfare reform. But it is really no feat, and no accomplishment, to cut the welfare rolls unless poverty among single mothers and their children is also reduced…. The Congress regularly voted down proposals to systematically monitor the impact of welfare reform on the well-being of families. Wisconsin, the welfare reform pioneer that has slashed its rolls by 68 percent, won’t release employers’ quarterly reports that tell not only whether recipients got jobs, but how long they kept them. New York City won’t open its records to outside researchers. When the Massachusetts welfare department was told that one in three of the people leaving welfare was unemployed, their response was to stop collecting information on why people were leaving the rolls.”

GWENDOLYN MINK
Professor of politics at the University of California at Santa Cruz and author of Welfare’s End, Mink said today: “In this campaign year, both Republicans and Democrats are taking credit for reducing the welfare rolls by 46 percent, and both sides are touting the ‘brilliant success’ of punitive innovations such as time limits and coerced work outside the home. But between 30 and 50 percent of families leaving welfare do not have earnings: that’s a 30-50 percent unemployment rate among former recipient families. Three years after leaving welfare, the median income even among employed former recipients was only $10,924 — well below the poverty line. By any measure, these data show that welfare reform has been a disaster for families who need welfare. The hardest hit are women of color and their children: welfare reform has had an unmistakable disparate racial impact. If Al Gore truly means to redistribute the joys and opportunities of prosperity to folks who have been left out, he needs to spearhead a campaign to reform welfare reform. And if he’s truly committed to women’s rights and racial equality, he must fight to repeal welfare provisions that make poor single mothers a separate and unequal caste.”

LINDA BURNHAM
Director of the Women of Color Resource Center and co-author of the report “Working Hard, Staying Poor: Women and Children in the Wake of Welfare ‘Reform,'” Burnham said: “Undoing the damage of welfare ‘reform’ requires the restoration and strengthening of the social safety net for women, while funding programs that support women all along the path to economic self-sufficiency…. Welfare ‘reform’ compromises the human rights of poor women in the United States. United Nations human rights instruments attest to the strong link between economic stability and all other human rights.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020