Welfare reauthorization fatigue so soon...

Bravo to Mark Schmitt for this post on why the debate over welfare this year misses the point entirely. It has been said by many people, and by myself as well, that one of welfare reform's lasting effects has been the neutering of a classic Republican cudgel on the Democrats. That was a good thing Clinton did. Good like his ending of the myth that Democrats liked street criminals. And to boot, old welfare sucked pretty hard, and needed to be changed.

On the other hand, Clinton got very, very lucky. Kicking tons of families off the welfare rolls came at just about the best time it could have: lots of upwardly mobile jobs for former recipients, states with bunches of cash to throw at nice programs. Awesome. Things look, shall we say, less promising these days.

But again, we digress. Schmitt's point is that intolerable economic insecurity is a far bigger problem than the 2 million on the welfare rolls. It's the whole freaking lower quintile of the income distribution (max househould income about $18,000). Fixing the poor/underclass/dispriveleged and cleaning up welfare are none too synonymous in this day and age. Traditional welfare reform has been reduced to a bureaucratic curiosity. Meaningful policy solutions for struggling Americans is the real, and ignored, challenge.


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