by Barry D. Bowen
President Bill Clinton twice vetoed the welfare reform bill put forward by Newt Gingrich and Bob Dole. Then just before the Democratic Convention he signed a third version. Some liberals were upset. Conservatives continued to sell the line that Clinton did not believe in welfare reform.
Conservative and moderate democrats argued that Clinton stood fast against extreme welfare reforms before signing the best compromise he could extract from Gingrich/Dole.
Just what are the differences between what Clinton vetoed and what he signed, and what were the compromises on which the GOP Congress refused to budge. Here are some facts from the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.
|1. Three Ways President Clinton Changed The Welfare Bill
|Clinton managed to preserve national standards and the guarantee that the poor will obtain food stamps. Congress had called for letting the states do whatever they wanted with food stamp money and program eligibility requirements.
|Clinton succeeded in strengthening day care support for children of welfare recipients. Congress had been demanding much deeper cuts.
|Clinton demanded and won the fight to guarantee Medicaid coverage, which generally helps the disabled and poor children. Congress wanted to let states do whatever they wanted with Medicaid, including taking Medicaid funds and using them for other purposes.
|2. Three Areas Congress Refused to Budge On The Welfare Bill
|Food Stamp Spending
|Congress is cutting food stamps by $24 billion over six years, with $3 billion more cut by banning food stamps to legal immigrants.
No food stamps for unemployed workers not raising children - no hardship exemptions.
President Clinton wanted smaller spending reductions and criticized banning unemployed workers from receiving food stamps.
|Congress banned the states from using Federal dollars to give the poor non-cash vouchers to families that exceed the five-year limit on cash assistance.
President Clinton wanted states to be able to use Federal block grant money -- if the states wanted -- to pay for vouchers to help families buy diapers, clothing, medicine, and school supplies for children.
|Legal immigrants that have not become U.S. citizens may not get Federal welfare benefits and social services during their first five years in the U.S. Food stamps and SSI (supplemental security income) benefits are now being cut off.
President Clinton called for these cuts to be scaled back.
|More Welfare Reform Provisions