After campaigning on a promise to “end welfare as we know it,” President Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (often referred to as welfare reform) in 1996. Building on the racist and sexist tropes about struggling Americans cemented in the culture wars of the 1980’s, Representative Newt Gingrich and Congressional Republicans wrote the legislation purportedly to break the “cycle of poverty.” Welfare reform introduced work requirements and time limits on assistance programs like food stamps, as well as a lifetime cap on benefits. Thousands of once-eligible families immediately lost access to benefits, and thousands more were discouraged from applying.
Galleries & Exhibits
- 11865-1925: Hunger in the Industrial City
- 21929-1940: America in Crisis and Recovery
- 31945-1965: WWII and the Paradoxes of the Postwar Era
- 41955-1980: The Fight for the Right to Food
- 51975-1996: The Unmaking of the Great Society
- 61997-Present: How It Is — And How It Should Be