Do the Republicans want to end welfare
: beginning of the end
American President Bill Clinton came into office three years ago with a promise to "end welfare as we know it". This fall, the Democrat will probably be able to redeem his pledge, but in a different form than originally planned. Last week, 87 of the 100 senators in Washington passed a welfare reform that turns thirty years of American social policy upside down and makes a reality what seemed unthinkable twelve months ago: the end of government guarantees for the poor.
Three-quarters of the Democratic senators and the Senate majority of the Republicans approved the reform package, only twelve politicians from the left wing opposed the threatened radical cure for the already holey American welfare state. If the Senate's plans become law, welfare will become a matter for the individual states. The government in Washington gives them money, but hardly regulates how welfare programs should be designed. Costs and financial resources are frozen, the citizen's previously guaranteed right to public aid is revoked. Support is currently given to those who are officially poor. In the future it may be that the demand for aid will far exceed the supply.
Democrats voted for measures that Roosevelts, Kennedys and Johnson’s party did not consider for a long time: the length of time for which social assistance is provided should be limited to five years; half of all welfare recipients must be in paid jobs by the year 2000. However, the planned reform no longer mentions additional education, training and professional programs or government assistance in the search for jobs. Bill Clinton wanted to spend over $ 9 billion more to give poor Americans a fresh start in their careers. Washington's reformers are now hoping that they can get unskilled, inexperienced and uneducated welfare recipients into their wages without additional training - and save eight billion dollars in the process.
Critics fear, however, that in the future there will not be more workers, but only new homeless people as well as more children and young women who have to live on private handouts. Nevertheless, Clinton will sign the reform if it is not tightened in the coming negotiations between the Senate and the House of Representatives - for example by removing all aid for underage mothers. The president and his intellectually and politically bankrupt party failed to implement their own reform plans while they were in charge of Washington. The Republicans now have the upper hand in both houses of Congress. After all, Clinton also follows the will of a majority of the population. Most Americans have long thought that the welfare state has failed and has bred a public-aid-dependent subclass that is far outside bourgeois society in morality and behavior. Politically, a veto against the reform of social welfare is no longer possible.
This may also apply to two other elements of the conservative revolution with which Republicans in Washington went public last week: First, the state health care for poor Americans (Medicaid) is also to be handed over to the states without conditions and regulations and at the same time by almost be cut by a fifth. On the other hand, the Republicans want to reorganize the public welfare program for the medical care of the elderly (Medicare), among other things by increasing the contributions. In fact, the two programs, which are supposed to help a total of seventy million people, can hardly be financed. Medicaid spending alone has quadrupled since the mid-1980s. Without radical health care cuts - Republicans speak of more than $ 450 billion in the next seven years - the Conservative majority's most important goal: reducing the US budget deficit, cannot be achieved.
Republican spokesman Newt Gingrich even threatened the state with an oath of disclosure if the minority refused to follow the majority's budget plans. Angry Democrats counter that the Republicans cup the poor to feed the rich and industry. As right as the Clinton party is in this, it is currently in no position to put a stop to the conservative cohorts. Compromises that will have to be found in the end will make it clear that the political center in Washington has shifted - at least for the moment - to the right. And Bill Clinton will possibly go into the 1996 presidential election as the American president who ushered in the beginning of the end of the New Deal - the one-time attempt to create a fairer society with the help of the state.
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