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Saturday, February 19, 2011

WELFARE For Families With Children

Aid to Families with Dependent Children was not a failure as some have said. AFDC served the country quite well for many decades, beginning during the Great Depression. It could have been improved, but instead, it was eroded by Reagan and then eliminated by Gingrich-Clinton. The removal of that program was part of a package of so-called reforms which injured poor people and diminished our civil rights and liberties. AFDC was was more than a charitable hand-out to poor children and their parents. Although it bestowed no right to receive any particular amount of assistance, whatever was determined to be appropriate was an entitlement. Assistance could not be denied in an arbitrary manner. A family's benefits, once granted, were protected procedurally by the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. In the Supreme Court case which announced that right, Justice William Brennan said,

"Welfare, by meeting the basic demands of subsistence, can help bring within the reach of the poor the same opportunities that are available to others to participate meaningfully in the life of the community... Public assistance, then, is not mere charity, but a means to "promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity...." Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 265 (1970).

AFDC contained strict work rules which were enforced. And, many welfare mothers were able to keep their apartments when grant levels failed to rise with inflation in the 1970s by working, because, at that time, working parents were allowed to keep a portion of their earned income. Reagan eliminated that partial exemption, resulting in thousands of families becoming homeless. The elimination of AFDC in 1996 removed the national safety net for poor children.

- Posted from my iPad

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