Bush Campaign Lies

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Bush Campaign Lie #30: Kerry Flip-Flopped On Welfare Reform 

The GOP claim this is Kerry flip-flop number 22, and for supporting evidence, they point to two of Kerry's votes in the Senate. Need we say more?

In case we do, here are the specifics. In the first session of the 103rd Congress, Kerry voted to table Senate Amendment 489. This amendment was narrowly targeted toward compelling states to require a certain percentage of welfare recipients to work, increasing the percentage year over year, until the total percentage of working recipients was at or above 50%. Any state failing to meet the threshold in a given year would lose half of their funding for their Aid to Families With Dependent Children (AFDC) programs. Kerry opposed this amendment, but he was in the minority, and it passed.

In the second session of the 104th Congress, Kerry voted in favor of H.R. 3734, commonly referred to as the 'Welfare Reform Bill'. But it's not fair to compare the Welfare Reform Bill to S. Amdt 489 for at least two reasons. First, S. Amdt 489 was very narrow in scope, while the Welfare Reform Bill was quite far-reaching. Second and most important, the Welfare Reform Bill handled AFDC funding very differently than S. Amdt 489.

S. Amdt 489 established a level of workfare participation for each state, and any state which failed to meet that threshold in a given year would lose 50% of their federal AFDC funding. This system had the potential to negatively impact the able-bodied folks who chose not to work as well as the deserving poor. On the other hand, the Welfare Reform Bill set a fixed level of AFDC funding for each state which would rise gradually each year, regardless of the workfare participation of welfare recipients. Individuals who were able to work and chose not to would lose their benefits, rather than cutting funding for the entire state. This is a huge difference.

So while the GOP is reporting the facts accurately, this still doesn't add up to a flip-flop, since the bill Kerry voted for is very different from the one he opposed.

3:14 PM