GOP would cut $57 billion from welfare, group says

November 23, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- The welfare reform plan drafted by House Republicans would reduce assistance to the poor by $57 billion over four years and deny benefits to half the families and children that receive aid under current law, according to a detailed analysis by a Washington-based advocacy group.

The report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which opposes the proposed GOP benefit cuts, said that the welfare plan endorsed by Republican House members would represent an unprecedented reduction in the social safety net established by Congress over several decades.

"The bill would make deep cuts in vital programs without helping welfare recipients earn their way out of poverty," said Isaac Shapiro, a senior analyst at the center, a respected liberal Washington institution.

"Increases in poverty, homelessness and hunger for millions of children most certainly would result and states would likely be saddled with significant added costs as they face the destitution created by these harsh policies."

The report represented the first major attack on the Republican plan to overhaul the welfare state, which is part of the House GOP's "Contract with America." Its findings will be key ammunition for moderates and liberals as they fight to derail the initiative.

Republicans criticized the report for exaggerating the impact of the bill and defended their proposal as a necessary measure to combat out-of-wedlock births and force parents to take financial responsibility for their children.

"This is not any cold-hearted policy, this is the way you make a work program effective -- you raise the stakes," said a Republican congressional staff member familiar with the proposal. "Policy without consequences is the Democratic approach to welfare reform. Policy with consequences is the approach Republicans are going to take."

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