How Bill Clinton’s Welfare “Reform” Created a System Rife With Racial Biases


Bill Moyers web site has the article How Bill Clinton’s Welfare “Reform” Created a System Rife With Racial Biases. Here is an excerpt to give you an idea of what is in the written part of the article.

Holland: According to your study, just five years after the passage of the Welfare Reform Act, 63 percent of families in the least stringent programs were white and 11 percent were black, and in the most restrictive programs — that is, the ones with the toughest penalties and the most stringent requirements for eligibility – 63 percent were black and just 29 percent were white.

Soss: Yes, and the stringency of the rules matter tremendously for outcomes. The tougher the rules — and the more frequently people are punished for breaking them — the worse the outcomes are for people after they finish the program.

In fact, in the toughest programs, people actually end up in worse shape after they get through them than they were before they got the benefits to begin with. And remember, they were in such a bad situation that they had to turn to a welfare program that’s been so stigmatized that pretty much everyone wants to avoid it.

We also found that people who go through the toughest programs learn lessons about government that lead them to retreat from participating in politics. They become less likely to make their voices heard, and less likely to participate in elections and community organizations.

In a subsequent post, Ian Haney López on the Dog Whistle Politics of Race, I will talk about the video that is embedded in the article.

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