On August 22, 1996 President Clinton
signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act. The
president emphatically stated that this moment should be "remembered not
for what it ended but for what it began, a new day that offers hope, honors
responsibility, rewards work, and changes the terms of the debate."
(President Clinton's remarks at the signing ceremony August 22, 1996, taken
from the White House web page)
The new law was a result of bipartisan efforts to significantly alter our
nation's pre-existing welfare system into one that promotes work, while
providing time-limited assistance. Welfare reform calls for strict work
requirements, incentives for states to effectively move recipients into the
workforce, regulated maintenance of state efforts, and support for families
moving from welfare to work. The support ensures medical coverage, child care
provisions, and greater child support enforcement.
May 27, 1998
On the first anniversary
of his administration's welfare-to-work initiative, President Bill Clinton once
again called on businesses to hire more people from the welfare rolls.
"The Welfare to Work Partnership was based
on the simple premise that now that we have passed the welfare reform law,
which required all able-bodied people who could work to work, we had a moral
obligation as a society to provide a job to all those people who were about to
lose their guaranteed benefits for idleness," Clinton said Wednesday in
the White House's East Room.
The president touted the
partnership's placement success, with 135,000 welfare recipients hired by U.S.
companies over the last year. Seventy percent of those are full-time employees
with health benefits.
The 1996 welfare reform
bill required welfare recipients to find jobs. The welfare rolls have dropped
by historic numbers in almost every state, but many have not been able to meet
their goal of having 75 percent of people who had been receiving aid in jobs or
"Today, there are
fewer than nine million people on welfare -- 3.3 percent of the population --
the lowest percentage of the population on welfare since 1969," Clinton
said, but he urged American businesses to help improve those statistics by hiring
"First, we have to
find more private-sector jobs," Clinton said. "I would like to ask
the Welfare To Work Partnership in 1998 to double the number of people they
hire and to double the number of companies that are participating."
The president said
hiring people from welfare is good business too. "This is not just good
for America and not just good for these families; it's also turned out to be
good for the businesses involved, many of whom find that these new workers stay
on the job longer, with less turnover and later work to motivate their
co-workers," Clinton said.
The Welfare to Work
Partnership launched a year ago with 100 member companies, and a goal of
increasing that number to 1,000 by this year. "We underestimated by a
factor of five; there are now more than 5,000 companies in this
partnership," Clinton said.