Please Dem. candidates: Let's leave welfare as a 2nd chance and not go back to where it was a way of life -- One of Clinton's signature achievements.
President Bill Clinton signed legislation in 1996 overhauling the welfare system.
From The New York Times:
In the summer of 1996, President Bill Clinton delivered on his pledge to “end welfare as we know it.” Despite howls of protest from some liberals, he signed into law a bill forcing recipients to work and imposing a five-year limit on cash assistance.
As first lady, Hillary Rodham Clinton supported her husband’s decision, drawing the wrath of old friends from her days as an advocate for poor children. Some accused the Clintons of throwing vulnerable families to the winds in pursuit of centrist votes as Mr. Clinton headed into the final stages of his re-election campaign.
Despite the criticism and anxiety from the left, the legislation came to be viewed as one of Mr. Clinton’s signature achievements. It won broad bipartisan praise, with some Democrats relieved that it took a politically difficult issue off the table for them, and many liberals came to accept if not embrace it.
Mrs. Clinton’s opponent in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination, Senator Barack Obama, said in an interview that the welfare overhaul had been greatly beneficial in eliminating a divisive force in American politics.
But now the issue is back, pulled to the fore by an economy turning down more sharply than at any other time since the welfare changes were imposed.
During the presidential campaign, [Mrs. Clinton] has faced little challenge on the issue, in large part because Mr. Obama has supported the 1996 law. “Before welfare reform, you had, in the minds of most Americans, a stark separation between the deserving working poor and the undeserving welfare poor,” Mr. Obama said in an interview. “What welfare reform did was desegregate those two groups. Now, everybody was poor, and everybody had to work.”
On the campaign trail, Mrs. Clinton is largely focused on the middle class. Since the departure from the Democratic race of John Edwards, who had made poverty a centerpiece of his campaign, there has been little debate about social welfare policy. But in promising on Friday to establish a cabinet-rank poverty-fighting position if she is elected, Mrs. Clinton reintroduced the topic and the question of her record.