Welfare Reform in America: A Clash of Politics and Research



The 1996 welfare reform law radically changed welfare as we knew it, after many years of debate and concerns across the ideological spectrum. Research should have provided essential information to revise the program, but instead, research was used as an ideological weapon to support conflicting points of view. President Clinton promised to end welfare as we know it but his welfare reform plan was superceded by the election of a Republican majority of the House and Senate in 1994. The resulting welfare bill included key elements from the Republican Contract with America. The purpose of this article is to describe how political pressures resulted in a dramatic change in law, despite doomsday predictions and almost no solid information about the law's likely impact.