IN 1996, around the time that President Clinton signed the law that ended welfare as we knew it, then-U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D-N.Y., warned it would be a disaster.
"You're talking about children on grates," he said.
It didn't happen, of course — not then, in a booming economy, when the welfare rolls plummeted and the law was declared a bipartisan success. And not now, five years into the worst economy since the Great Depression.
The fact that we aren't tripping over homeless children begging for food is probably because their mothers are doing everything they can to feed and shelter them. It almost certainly isn't because the work requirements and time limits included in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program are providing a necessary push for lazy mothers to get off their behinds and get to work in jobs that are there just for the applying. Not only is poverty at record levels, but according to the census, 20.5 million Americans live in "deep poverty" (less than $9,500 for a family of three). Before welfare reform, two-thirds of children in poor families received welfare. Now only 27 percent do.