RIPPING UP WELFARE

WITH NOT A LITTLE DRAMA, CLINTON GRUDGINGLY APPROVES THE G.O.P. BILL, AND THE U.S. STARTS A VAST AND RISKY EXPERIMENT

Historic turning points in social policy are not always obvious when they occur. Certainly Franklin D. Roosevelt did not foresee that some provisions of the Social Security Act he signed in 1935 would burgeon over the next 61 years into a mammoth federally financed and regulated welfare program. Last week, though, the equally historic nature of the decision facing Bill Clinton was clear not just to the White House but the whole nation. So the President turned his deliberations over a radical overhaul of F.D.R.'s welfare system into a solemn little drama.

Or perhaps a bit of "Kabuki theater," as an...

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