I am not talking about Hillary Clinton losing the election, though that is where the buck stops for that debacle, I am talking about the legacy of pain and misery for the poor and minorities that they have left in their wake.
First, of course was the 1994 crime bill, the one that Hillary Clinton supported in racially charged terms when she said that we, “Have to bring them to heel.”
While we have the benefit of hindsight, the Clintons could not have known that Nixon’s removal of lead from gasoline would have crime falling 25 years hence, (see here, here, and here) and there was a national hysteria over crime.
Second and perhaps more significant, and more contemptible was, the Clinton’s systematic dismantling of Welfare, reducing it to little more than a block grant routinely used by states as a slush fund, while severe poverty in the United States has skyrocketed:
Twenty years ago today, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, better known as the Welfare Reform Act. Clinton promised it would “end welfare as we know it.”
And it did. Because of the reform act, welfare funding now is called TANF, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families – with a strong emphasis on “temporary.” Unlike before, welfare recipients now have a clock ticking when they first start receiving benefits. They are cut off from receiving federal benefits after five years (and in some states, it’s less).
The bill also changed how the federal government manages welfare dollars. Now, states get the money first and decide how to distribute it. Before, needy families received cash benefits directly through the federal welfare program.
This has meant welfare money has gone to some pretty surprising items, such as college scholarships for middle-class college students, and relationship counseling for married or seriously dating couples.
In the Reveal episode “A Welfare Check,” Marketplace reporter Krissy Clark digs into one of the biggest changes to come out of the reform: States get to manage their welfare dollars. This leaves them with a lot of freedom to choose how to spend the money, and they just have to state that the money is going to one of these four purposes:
And what they found was a stark change in how states use welfare dollars. Before reform, states were pretty much in the same place. The overwhelming majority of welfare dollars went to cash assistance. That share has gotten smaller and smaller since 1996, and in 2014, 26 percent of all TANF dollars in the country went to cash assistance. The rest has gone to other things entirely.
In Michigan, for example, the state spends nearly $100 million a year in TANF money on college scholarships. For more than a decade in Oklahoma, TANF dollars funded relationship classes for seriously dating and married couples of all income brackets.
In Indiana it goes to phony anti-abortion “Pregnancy Crisis Centers”, which are contractually bound not to inform women of all their health options, because, one way to reduce out of wedlock births, one of the goals of the bill, is to force women to carry their fetus to term.
This was foreseeable, and it was part of a pattern of the Clinton Presidency, turning things into block grants, farming out government functions to more expensive private contractors because it produced political advantage, aggressive deregulation (including repealing Glass-Steagall), etc.
While I have some small fondness for the Clinton Presidency, it is largely an artifact of the Republican’s
attempted coup impeachment attempt, because the Clintons were bad for the country, and a disaster for the Democratic Party.
The radio show is embedded below: