Clinton hails 13 percent drop in welfare rolls
December 7, 1996
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Clinton said Saturday that his efforts to "end welfare as we know it" were paying off, resulting in the biggest drop in welfare rolls in history.
In his weekly radio address, Clinton told Americans, "We were determined to move millions from welfare to work, and our strategy has worked. I am pleased to announce today that there are now 2.1 million fewer people on welfare than on the day I took the oath of office."
"That is the biggest drop in welfare rolls in history," Clinton said.
Government figures show that 12 million people currently receive Aid to Families with Dependent Children, compared to 14.1 million in 1993. That's close to a 15 percent decline.
During the same period, welfare rolls fell about 13 percent -- from 4.9 million people to 4.3 million.
Some states had sharper declines. Wisconsin welfare rolls were down 41 percent, and Indiana rolls dropped 38 percent. Clinton granted both states waivers to launch welfare reform experiments.
"Welfare as we knew it was a bad deal for everyone. We're determined to create a better deal," Clinton said. "We want to say to every American, work pays."
Clinton defended the controversial Republican-backed welfare law he signed last August, angering some liberal Democrats. The president admitted there is still a lot of work to do as far as welfare is concerned.
Clinton urged states to ratify plans for new welfare programs, following the lead of California, Nebraska, South Dakota, Alabama and 14 other states. He pledged to protect health care, nutrition and child care. He also promised stiffer child-support enforcement.
Clinton urged businesses to create 1 million jobs and to hire people who currently receive welfare.
"Together we can make the permanent underclass a thing of the past," he said. "Every organization which employs people should consider hiring someone off welfare, and every state ought to give those organizations the incentives to do so." (272K/25 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)
During his re-election campaign, Clinton proposed $3.43 billion in tax cuts for employers that hire people on welfare. He also said localities should get $3 billion to work with businesses to create job opportunities for people on welfare.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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