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The debate is over We now know that welfare reform works declared President Clinton in the summer of 1997 The national consensus generally supported his assertion and his major policy change to halt the number of lax uneventful aid recipients who are content with leeching indefinitely off the national welfare system Under Clintons 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act the former Aid to Families with Dependent Children AFDC program was replaced by another the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families TANF The TANF terminated such unlimited welfare rolls or cash allowances handed out under AFDC and limited rolls to a five-year maximum requiring that welfare recipients establish and maintain jobs Oliphant 1 Despite its widespread praise much evidence calls into question its seeming nobility its true purpose and its ultimate success The following evidence suggests that dependency measurement does not provide an accurate picture of aid-dependents situation and that TANF is indeed a faulty program Rather than continue to fight permissiveness and dependency we must begin to address qualitative difficulties in their personal lives which would better allow them to return to flourishing independence outside TANFs largesse The basis of TANFs purported success relies on two factors The first is a single quantitative finding the number of welfare recipients dropped from 1224 million in August 1996 to 628 million in June 2000 a 53 rate of decline Schram 3 Though this claim is technically true its validity is doubtful Rather when discussing welfare roll decline welfare exit rates are emphasized consisting of those who voluntarily leave welfare dependency or who violate TANF policy thereby ceasing their right to welfare rolls However TANF advocates conveniently fail to note increased policy restrictions and more importantly welfare entry rates This is a subtle yet highly significant distortion because if rolls were to be reduced by merely shutting the gates on needy families this would be viewed by many as a small and ignoble feat Rector 12 TANFs
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