Welfare Reform:

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CHICAGO: For members of a party that virtually assumes victory in November, a lot of Democrats in Chicago this week are looking worried and anxious. The talk at a gathering of New York delegates and friends Wednesday afternoon was embittered. Many Democrats are close to despair over the looming consequences of the welfare reform law that President Clinton just signed, even as they are dependent on Clinton to help mitigate the consequences in a second term. "It is absolutely the worst bill passed in my 22 years in Congress," said Illinois Senator Paul Simon. "What's going to happen is nothing but bad. Picture a welfare mother here in Chicago in the Robert Taylor Homes, with two young children. The law says her benefits can be taken away in five years, but it also says the state can cut that back to two years. You tell her to get off welfare and work, but you're not going to help her with childcare, or job training, and she doesn't have the education to get a job. We're going to have children on the street, going without food, education, medicine, vaccinations." New York Congressman Charles Rangel expects the cycle of despair among the poor to grow worse. "There are no jobs. This Administration is going to work hard to create jobs for these people, but the jobs won't be there in time for all these impoverished families whose benefits are going to end. I deal with these teenage mothers every day. They aren't even qualified to be waitresses! What we need to do is avoid the situation in the first place, make sure that these young women are not having babies they are not prepared to support, that they are getting the education and the training they need. The guys that impregnate them are no goddamned good! I am very disappointed in our spiritual leaders. They have let us down on this. They have ducked this one. They talk about helping the needy, loving the helpless. These babies are our children! These are the least among us! You can't just turn your back on these babies! They are already here." New York delegate Barbara Lee Diamonstein Spielvogel says her enthusiasm for Bill Clinton has been dampened by his signing of the bill: "The idea is to re-elect him, and then he'll try to fix the situation he has helped to create. That's our only hope, you know? Consider the alternative." -->