Clinton's welfare reform sets 2-year training limit

September 10, 1992|By Knight-Ridder Newspapers

JONESBORO, Ga. -- Attempting to show that he is a "different kind of Democrat," Bill Clinton has outlined his plan to overhaul the nation's welfare system and stop the steady rise in taxes that pay for it.

The core of his program would provide welfare recipients with education, training, child care and transportation for two years, then send them to work in the private sector or community service. The plan includes an earned income tax credit for those with children.

The proposal seems aimed as much at middle-class suburban voters key to this year's election as much as at welfare recipients.

"Welfare ought to be a second chance, not a way of life," Mr. Clinton told a predominantly white audience yesterday in this Atlanta suburb that was the setting for Margaret Mitchell's "Gone With the Wind."

"By the time we're through," he added, "we shouldn't have a welfare program in America. We should have a helping hand program followed by a jobs program."

If the country does nothing, Mr. Clinton estimated that 25 percent of the 14 million people on welfare will still be there in 2000.

The Democratic presidential nominee's program would cost about $6 billion a year. He said he expects the funds to come from cutting government waste and through defense cuts, money he has also promised to help small businesses.

The welfare reform proposal is based on a similar program Mr. Clinton implemented as governor of Arkansas, which he said has moved 17,000 people off welfare and into the work force in the last four years. However, the state's welfare rolls increased because of the recession, a federal study showed. In 1991, Mr. Clinton said, the program saved Arkansas taxpayers $12 million.

Mr. Clinton's aides said the proposal shows their candidate is "a different kind of Democrat," one who is willing to tackle the tricky welfare issue head-on.

"This demonstrates that Bill Clinton is not bound by the old ideological constraints," said Bruce Reed, Mr. Clinton's issues director.

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