Down on the Downtrodden

Newt Gingrich sets off a race to cut government spending for the poor, but he may be misreading America's mood

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At Ford's Theater, not far from Capitol Hill, a stage version of A Christmas Carol is playing this week. When a delegation of Londoners comes calling at Scrooge's office seeking alms for the poor, literature's best-known misanthrope shoots back his famous retort: Are there no prisons? No workhouses? No orphanages? On some nights the line, with its obvious echo of the latest ideas from Congress, has been bringing gasps and mutters from the crowd. In the months to come, Scrooge is a role Gingrich and his followers won't be afraid to assume. The only question is how many Americans will applaud the performance.


CREDIT: From a telephone poll of 800 adult Americans taken for TIME/CNN on Aug. 17-18 by Yankelovich Partners Inc. Sampling error is plus or minus 3% Not Sures omitted

CAPTION: Do you agree :"The way things are today, people have to worry more about themselves and their families and less about helping others"?

Is it fair to cut off government payments to people who have been on welfare for two years, even if they have no other source of income?

Should welfare reform start saving taxpayers money immediately, or is it more important to train welfare recipients for jobs, which means the government would spend more money in the short run

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