Moving to redeem President Clinton's pledge to "end welfare as we know it," the White House Tuesday unveiled his $9.3 billion reform package imposing a two-year limit on cash benefits and steering aid recipients into the work force.
"Under the president's reform plan, welfare will be about a paycheck, not a welfare check," according to a summary of the plan obtained by The Associated Press.The five-year plan, which Clinton announced in Kansas City, would largely be paid for by cutting social programs, especially aid to immigrants and the homeless. Subsidies to farmers would be cut at a savings of $500 million.
A huge chunk of the money - about $7 billion - would be spent on education, training and day-care programs, with only $1.2 billion targeted for work programs. The tilt away from jobs programs is expected to draw criticism.
Clinton's forum was the Commerce Bank, where Harry Truman once worked as a teller. Now, the bank is known for hiring people from training programs intended to move them from welfare to jobs.
More than a year in the making and long delayed in its presentation, Clinton's plan is intended to frame a national debate on welfare reform, a politically popular issue among Democrats and Republicans alike.
With health reform already clogging both houses of Congress, it's doubtful that welfare reform will be enacted this year.
Clinton said overhauling welfare is an issue that cuts across political lines. "This is something the Bubbas of America and the liberals can get together on," he told U.S. News & World Report this week.
The centerpiece of Clinton's plan is a two-year limit on cash benefits for single parents 18 and older.