The Public Interest

The crises in welfare

Daniel P. Moynihan

Winter 1968

In the course of the Second Session of the Ninetieth Congress, the House of Representatives by near-unanimous action approved what must surely be the first purposively punitive welfare legislation in the history of the American national government. On the initiative of the Ways and Means Committee, the House inserted provisions in the Social Security amendments of 1987 which deny federal funds for any further proportionate rise in the number of children being supported by the Aid to Families of Dependent Children program, thus placing enormous pressure on the mothers of such children to go to work, and which also institute formal investigations to determine who and where are the fathers. Inasmuch as no effort was made to conceal the fact that these provisions were designed to halt the rise in Negro dependence on the AFDC program, the House action might also be considered the first deliberate anti-civil rights measure of the present era.

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