Republican presidential candidate John Kasich has promoted himself both as a friend of the working poor and as a foe of Hillary Clinton, but as House Budget Committee chairman in the 1990s, he worked with the Clintons to roll back welfare programs, helping double extreme poverty in America.
In 1996, the Clinton administration and congressional Republicans worked hand in hand to pass what they called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, colloquially known as “welfare reform.”
The legislation famously “ended welfare as we know it,” replacing Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The newly-created TANF placed a time limit on how long the federal government would extend financial assistance to poor families.
Kasich was one of the legislation’s prime movers. After clashes between Clinton and the Republicans over earlier versions of the bill, Kasich introduced what went on to become the final legislation in June 1996. By late July, the administration and the Republicans had solved their disagreements, and a conference bill coasted to passage by a 328-101 vote (Bernie Sanders, another presidential contender, opposed it).
“It was pretty amazing today to watch the President of the United States come on television and say that he was going to, in fact, sign this welfare bill,” Kasich boasted on the House floor on July 31, 1996.
He invoked the civil rights era to tout the cutbacks in funding to the poor, saying:
We marched 30, 40 years ago because we thought people were not being treated fairly, and we march today for the very same reason. What I would say, and maybe let me take it back and say many of my friends marched. I was too young, but I watched, and I respect it. What I would suggest at the end of the day, however, is that we all are going to have to stand up for those who get neglected in reform, but frankly this system is going to provide far more benefits, far more hope, restore the confidence in the American people that we have a system that will help those that cannot help themselves and at the same time demand something from able-bodied people who can. It will benefit their children, it will help the children of those who go to work.
One of the leading dissenters in the House was Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga. “The bill we are considering today is a bad bill. I will vote against it and I urge all people of conscience to vote against it. It is a bad bill because it penalizes children for the actions of their parents,” he thundered. “This bill, Mr. Speaker, will put 1 million more children into poverty. How, how can any person of faith, of conscience vote for a bill that puts a million more kids into poverty?… What does it profit a great nation to conquer the world, only to lose its soul? Mr. Speaker, this bill is an abdication of our responsibility and an abandonment of our morality. It is wrong, just plain wrong.”
Read the full article at The Intercept.