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The New York Times.

Mike Stands Up For Welfare Reform
February 27, 2002

Mayor Bloomberg seems to have passed an early test of sorts.

The Manhattan Instituteís Heather Mac Donald explained the problem on these pages two weeks ago: Would the new administration stand up for requiring work of those on public assistance?

Under the 1996 welfare reform law, localities can ask to suspend the rule that people getting food stamps must work at least eight hours a week.

But such requirements have proved a key factor in the dramatic, nationwide success of welfare reform. Mayor Giuliani and then-welfare director Jason Turner understood that well; under their direction, the city opted not to request the federal waiver.

As it turned out, the phenomenal 60 percent drop in the welfare rolls since 1963 suggests that Giuliani and his team knew what they were doing.

But when Mayor Bloomberg took office, all eyes turned to him and his choice to succeed Turner, Verna Eggleston. In particular, her background as a "child advocate" offered scant reason to think she might be effective at her new job.

But last week Eggleston announced that the city would continue to follow Team Giulianiís lead and refrain from seeking the waiver. The modest work requirements for food stamps will stay in effect.

Eggleston explained, "We can do more for our clients by declining the waiver and by identifying each individualís capacity and tailoring assistance to move them to the maximum possible level of self-sufficiency."

Thatís exactly right.

The Bloomberg folks seem to recognize the importance of encouraging recipients to work and keeping welfare reform intact. They deserve kudos for seeing this essential truth.

©2002 New York Post



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