When Ideology Trumps Reality

The major news sources have failed to report on one of the most significant aspects of this Pelosi/Reid/Obama stimulus plan: the undoing of welfare reforms passed in 1996.  During the Clinton administration a Republican Congress passed legislation that gave states incentives to move people off of their welfare rolls and into the workforce.  This represented a reversal of the previous policy, which awarded states federal funds proportionate to the number of people they kept in dependence on government.  The 1996 reforms instead gave states a flat rate for certain welfare programs and allowed them to keep any surplus they might have left over to be used for other programs.

The reforms produced very good results.  Welfare rolls dropped, employment increased, and poverty went on the decline.  This is not just a right-wing interpretation of events.  President Clinton, who signed the bill into law, touted it as one of his major accomplishments.  People on both sides of the aisle could see plainly that the plan had worked.

Now the new stimulus plan that President Obama has signed takes us back to welfare policies similar to the pre-1996 era.  States have an incentive now to keep people poor and dependent on government.  Welfare rolls will likely go up again, putting a burden on taxpayers and leading to an increase in social pathologies like out-of-wedlock births.  A government policy that has produced real results has been killed by a left-wing ideology, and this from a President who was supposed to reduce poverty. 

As I indicated here and here, I was open at first to the possibility that President Obama could govern from the center and work with his political opponents to produce real solutions in Washington.  In less than a month he has already shown that he is not going to be that kind of President.

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4 Responses to “When Ideology Trumps Reality”

  1. Ali Says:

    Having stood outside the circus when it came to Obama hype (though somehow people I know in NZ seemed to be right in the middle of it!!) I have never had much confidence in Obama. It’s always easy to be a naysayer, of course, but Obama’s consistently overblown rhetoric led me to strongly suspect he would not be a good president…at least in terms of godly values like honesty and ability. He seems to be living down to my expectations. Many people seemed to forget that just because someone is a good speaker does not mean he will be a good president.

    Sad. But then, God sets up those he chooses. I wonder what the US will look like at the end of Obama’s first term. I’m hoping some good will come out of this presidency, but I expect that one heck of a lot of bad will also.

    It’s a great reminder that our only hope is in God and his Son, Jesus Christ.

  2. Aaron Says:

    Amen, Ali.

    So far as politics is concerned, I do see a ray of hope coming in 2010. We may see a repeat of what happened in 1994. Bill Clinton’s first two years in office (1992-1994) were spent with a Democratic Congress. Clinton pursued a leftist agenda during that time. And then the voters responded with a major Republican takeover, forcing Clinton to govern from the center during the remainder of his presidency.

    This Congress has the lowest approval ratings in history, and in 2010 the Democrats will not be able to ride Bush-fatigue to victory the way they have in the last two elections (2006 and 2008). I daresay we may have by then a good dose of Obama-fatigue, and a major shift in Congress could change the game dramatically for the last two years of this Obama term (hopefully his first term is also his last).

  3. Marc Whitman Says:

    Aaron,
    I know you’re a fan of Thomas Sowell, but have you had an opportunity to read Basic Economics? It lays out a very sound argument against government intervention of almost any kind (especially the economic kind of intervention).

  4. Aaron Says:

    No, I haven’t read that one. Is it a short and easy read?

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