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Welfare Over Work: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law

Tuesday December 2006


Ron Haskins Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution

Ten years have passed since President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act. Many predicted disaster.

It is not too much to claim, however, that welfare reform fundamentally transformed American social policy shifting its emphasis from dependency-producing entitlements to an expectation of work. The evidence that welfare use has dropped, that work and earnings have increased and that child poverty has fallen, is overwhelming.

Ron Haskins, one of the principal architects of the act as a key staffer on the House Ways and Means Committee in 1996, will give us a first-hand account of the political process and behind-the-scenes intrigue that brought about the landmark welfare reform legislation.