News Release

Interviews Available: Welfare Reauthorization

GWENDOLYN MINK
Author of the newly-revised Welfare’s End and a political scientist at Smith College, Mink said today: “Temporary Assistance for Needy Families reauthorization is Congress’s opportunity to undo some of the damage of the 1996 welfare law. The first step toward TANF reform must be to repeal TANF’s current goal of abolishing single motherhood, which makes meddling in women’s intimate lives the surrogate for dealing with the causes of mothers’ poverty. The progressive TANF Reauthorization Bill (H.R. 3113) does just that by rededicating TANF’s statutory purposes and provisions to reducing poverty — through education, work supports, caregiving support, child care, labor rights, domestic violence and other services. From Feb. 4 to 8, grassroots and other welfare activists will carry this message to Congress. TANF should fight poverty, not beat down poor people.”
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FRANCES FOX PIVEN
Coauthor of Regulating the Poor and The Breaking of the American Social Compact and a professor at the Graduate Center of CUNY, Piven said today: “Across the country, our welfare policies are colliding with the recession and high levels of unemployment. The ‘work first’ regime introduced in 1996 assumed that almost everyone could get a job, and that any kind of job was better than welfare. So, ‘welfare reform’ meant making welfare hard to get and harder to keep. Now, however, many of the women pushed off the rolls under ‘welfare reform’ are losing the low wage jobs they managed to get. The vast majority are ineligible for unemployment insurance, and welfare, which was once the unemployment insurance program of low wage workers, is not likely to be available either. Recession is bad for everyone, but our welfare policies are making it a true catastrophe for the poor.”

LIZ ACCLES
Director of Welfare Made a Difference Campaign, which documents how people have struggled out of poverty with the help of welfare, Accles said today: “People need assistance from welfare for varying lengths of time, all for valid reasons. Cutting benefits based on an arbitrary time limit and in spite of the continuing need for assistance sends families tumbling deeper into crisis. Mothers who know what it’s like to live poor are going to Washington next week to urge lawmakers to reform TANF so that it promotes rather than undermines economic viability.”
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SANFORD SCHRAM
Author of After Welfare and professor of social work and social research at Bryn Mawr College, Schram said today: “Welfare reform is supposed to be about promoting long-term self-sufficiency. It is supposed to do this in ways that also promote the well-being of families and the healthy development of children. That means supporting single mothers who try to balance caring for their children at home with taking paid employment outside the home. Welfare reform needs to be revised to provide education and training sufficient that single mothers with children can effectively support their families once they go to work, rather than being mired in a cycle of low-wage jobs and welfare.”
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; David Zupan, (541) 484-9167