Democratic Dish: Administration wants welfare reasons

Some people believe we should get rid of the welfare system, but the president wants to try to reform it.

George W. Bush's administration started drafting out plans last week for modifying our welfare programs by asking states to find new methods to endorse marriage and to help the poor obtain better work without granting more federal money for those acts.

Presidential aides announced that, in their plans, states will maintain their welfare programs with the same financial aid they began to get six years ago, mostly from yearly funding adding up to $16.5 billion.

Other aides said they want to use $100 million for some states to research plans to persuade people with lower incomes to get married and then stay together. Bush's administration recommends funding the research by ending the financial extras the federal government has been sending to states where births to unmarried women have decreased.

Congressional Democrats said that, because the nation is in the middle of a recession, welfare needs more financial assistance and a greater importance on labors to lower poverty. On the other hand, conservatives and specialists on the welfare issue say the government should give states less financial assistance and enforce concentrated plans to promote marriage.

The number of families getting financial aid in the welfare system has dropped more than 50 percent during the past few years, to a little more than 2 million, but many former participants who have found work continue to be poor and often move in and out of the workforce.

The administration wants to create into law a basic reason for welfare, to promote children's well being. Democrats want to add a different goal: to lessen poverty and help former receivers become self-reliant.

The administration will give more details in about three weeks. They also want to restore two smaller amounts of assistance that were canceled last year. The first would provide about $319 million per year to certain states that during the years have paid out seemingly low welfare aid. The second would give the maximum of $2 billion during the next five years to states with the largest unemployment rates.

In contrast, the Democratic welfare bill in the House outlines that states need another $25 billion over five years for larger block grants, more child-care assistance and the restoration of aid for immigrants of legal status.

Again, let's hope a compromise can be made with both the administration and in Congress so the welfare system can survive here in the United States. What is really important is that the welfare system is actually helping people live their lives and survive, not simply to get married and procreate. We need a system that teaches the impoverished in our nation skills to help them survive in the workforce. That should be the main focus.

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