Felicia Kornbluh on ‘Welfare Reform’ Anniversary

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Bill Clinton signing the "welfare reform" billThis week on CounterSpin: The 10-year mark since Hurricane Katrina has occasioned some journalistic looks back at the devastation, and, to a lesser extent, how and why that devastation was disproportionately born by black and poor people – and to a still lesser extent, how those same people are missing from the “silver lining” improvement or “opportunity” narratives now presented.

Would that even that degree of critical consideration would be granted to the anniversary of another disaster for low-income communities of color: the move to “end welfare as we know it,” signed into law in August 1996 by Bill Clinton. If you don’t remember the media stampede – Black women having babies for government checks! Pregnant teenagers draining public resources! – that’s partly because elite media, having championed hard for the dismantling of the safety net, were markedly less interested in tracking the human fallout.

We talk about what was called “reform” of what was called “welfare” with associate professor of history at the University of Vermont Felicia Kornbluh, author (with Gwendolyn Mink) of the forthcoming Ensuring Poverty: Welfare Reform After 20 Years.

And first, as usual, a quick look back at the week’s press.



  • “Poor Mothers Don’t Matter in Welfare Policy,” by Felicia Kornbluh and Gwendolyn Mink (Common Dreams, 8/23/15)

This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission from FAIR.