Biden Agenda Points to End of 'Tough Love' Welfare Reform President Joe Biden addresses a joint session of Congress on April 28, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Jonathan Ernst-Pool/Getty Images)
A little-publicized but highly significant part of the agenda spelled out by President Biden Wednesday night could spell the beginning of the end of the "tough love" welfare reform begun by Ronald Reagan when he was governor of California and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
Included in the American Rescue Act enacted by Congress — and hailed by Biden in his address to Congress — is a provision that expands the Child Tax Credit. What that means is that even families with no income or tax liability will get $3,000 for each child aged 6 to 17 and $3,600 for each child under 6.
"They’ll get cash," the Washington Post reported, "whether anyone in the household works or not."
These cash payments are a direct contradiction of the 1996 Welfare Reform Bill signed into law by Biden’s fellow Democrat Bill Clinton.
Clinton, in fact, performed what the Epoch Times' Emel Akan dubbed "a victory lap" when he wrote a New York Times op-ed a decade later pointing to the drop in able-bodied Americans receiving welfare payments and the rise in those on payrolls.
By 2019, child poverty dropped to a fifty-year low of 14.4%. The welfare rolls dropped to 2 million, or roughly 20% of what they were when Clinton signed the legislation.
What is referred to today as "Clinton’s Legacy" actually had its genesis in California in the early 1970’s under then-Gov. Ronald Reagan. Working closely with State Welfare Commissioner Bob Carleson, Reagan launched a program that required welfare applicants to seek employment before accepting any kind of compensation — and thus actually sent federal welfare dollars back to Washington.
The late California Assemblywoman Barbara Alby of Sacramento, a single mother and unemployed when Reagan’s measure was enacted, told Newsmax how "I later wrote Gov. Reagan and thanked him for cutting off my welfare. It made me go to work [as a waitress] and move up from there. It was one of the best things that happened to me."
Learning of Reagan's success, New York’s Republican Gov. Nelson Rockefeller hired Carleson to do the same to his state's growing welfare rolls.
But it was Clinton who put the concept of "tough love" on the federal books.
Progressive Democrats in Congress have signaled they want to make the Child Tax Credit permanent in 2022.
Susan Carleson, Bob’s widow and the head of the Carleson Center for Welfare Reform, told Newsmax that "[r]eversing our country's most successful effort to end socialism will break the spirit and destroy the dignity of our poor. It will also impose a huge burden on America's taxpayers."
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.