Felicia Kornbluh on the Politics of Welfare

19 August 2016 — FAIR

Welfare Reform

(image: Matt Wuerker)

This week on CounterSpin: It was 20 years ago this month that Bill Clinton eliminated the federal guarantee of assistance to poor families. Corporate media played a key role in persuading the public that Aid to Families with Dependent Children—representing less than 1-and-a-half percent of federal outlay from 1964 to 1994—was somehow bleeding the country dry.

Now we’re told we’re in a moment of reconsideration—of tough-on-crime policies, of the deregulation of banks and, perhaps, of the notion that depriving needy people of assistance would lead to their gainful employment and well-being. Our guest says a true reconsideration of the 1990s welfare overhaul would require a so-far invisible recentering of the people in its crosshairs: low-income women, particularly mothers raising children on their own.

Felicia Kornbluh is associate professor of history and gender, sexuality and women’s studies at the University of Vermont and president of the faculty union, United Academics. She’s author of The Battle for Welfare Rights and, with Gwendolyn Mink, of the forthcoming Ensuring Poverty: The History and Politics of Welfare Reform. She joins us today on CounterSpin to talk about what’s missing from even Democratic debates about the social safety net.

 
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