Tommy Thompson on Welfare & Poverty
Former Secretary of H.H.S.; former Republican Governor (WI)
Before starting, Thompson invited groups of welfare mothers to his home for luncheon discussions on what locked them into welfare and what was needed to free them from the trap. The most commonly cited barriers to leaving welfare were inadequate child care, health care, transportation and training - four elements that became the foundation for the governor’s reform programs.
Since 1987, Thompson has instituted many welfare reform programs and initiatives that have combined to reduce Wisconsin’s welfare caseload by more than any state in the nation.
Since 1987, Wisconsin has cut its welfare caseload by more than 93%, from 98,000 AFDC families in January 1987 to under 6,700 W-2 cash assistance families in February 2000.
Handing out a welfare check and expecting nothing in return is not public assistance, it is public apathy - “Here is your check, see you next month.” So while Washington stood around and talked about how welfare needed to be changed, we in the states-I started in 1986-started doing something about it. We started offering hope and opportunity along with the welfare check and expecting certain responsibilities in return. We put common sense reforms in place. We required young men and women up to age 19 to go to school; and in the case of chronic truants, we took away that portion of the welfare check attributable to that young man or woman. Some opponents said, “What if they don’t want to go to school?” And I said, “Tough.”
In order to accomplish these things we had to go to Washington and kiss someone’s ring to say, “Please give us a chance to try something that might work.” I have had waivers under Reagan, Bush and Clinton. Why should states need waivers to try innovative ideas in welfare? Why should we have to go to Washington and kiss somebody’s ring to do what everybody wants us to do and that is to change welfare in our society and give people jobs and hope and optimism
That is why I am fighting for the government to block grant welfare funding back to the States.
Christian Coalition publishes a number of special voter educational materials including the Christian Coalition Voter Guides, which provide voters with critical information about where candidates stand on important faith and family issues. The Christian Coalition Voters Guide summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Requiring welfare recipients to work or get job training"
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