refrain took full credit for fulfilling Clinton’s promise to end “welfare-as-we-know-it.” Jackson emphasized that the real struggle was over jobs, not welfare, and that that struggle was yet to be joined. “The passage of the welfare bill,” he said, “created a moral imperative to provide a job with a living wage for every man and woman in America.” The economic imperatives were something else again. The non-convention headlines had already begun to reflect the devastating reverberations of jump-starting a presidential campaign on the backs of the despised poor. On Sunday, The New York Times had reported that the jobs promised to those who were about to be proudly liberated from lifelong welfare dependency simply did not exist. “It will be virtually impossible,” concluded experts familiar with the national job market, “to move hundreds of thousands of people from public assistance into full-time jobs over the next few years, as the new federal law overhauling welfare intends.” On Wednesday, The Dallas Morning News noted that George Bush had reviewed the expected impact of the welfare cutsespecially those directed at legal immigrantson the Texas economy, and even the Republican Governor was sobered by the devastating news. Responding to two-year projections of $1.5 billion in federal cuts, Bush said, “For people who are legally in our country, we ought to be mindful of the elderly and the disabled and the people who can’t take care of themselves.” Perhaps the Governor, too, will look to Clinton to correct his oversight. Clinton would close the convention by gamefully exhorting private employers, especially those who supported the welfare bill, to provide jobs for former welfare recipients. \(He even promised a tax credit in return, although presumably nothing so large as to sap the short run, real “welfare-to-work” programs cost more, not less, than welfare, and that neither the private nor public sector currently has the jobs needed to even remotely address the problem. In New York City alone, for example \(according to the at the current growth rate, if every single new job of any kind were given to a welfare recipient, “it would take twenty-one years for all 470,000 [welfare-recipient] adults to be absorbed into the economy.” Serious welfare reform, one expert noted, would require “a massive job creation effort beyond anything the Government’s done since the Great Depression.” \(It would also require a President less cheerfully committed to his neo-liberal declaration What hits the poorest today is of course waiting for the rest of us tomorrow. Even less discussed in the one-sided Democratic “debate” over welfare reform is the inevitable secondary effect of the so-called reforms on those with jobs. In 1995, the Economic Policy Institute estimated that the Republican welfare bill \(now signed by should it be fully implemented with its “welfare-to-work” provisions, would inevitably also drive wages down for “low-wage” workers \(30 percent of the national workforce, or about 30 million In Texas, lo’w-wage workers would Yet the President who enacted and is now campaigning on this Jesse Jackson bill, and who not only signed but led the fight to pass the ruthlessly anti-labor NAFTA and GATT treaties, is once again the favored candidate of organized labor. The AFL-CIO has pledged $35 million for the fall campaign, pointing primarily to the Democrats’ support for a raise in the minimum wage. Outside the United Center, labor leaders were more frank than most Democrats in discussing their enthusiastic but conditional support for Clinton. Both AFL-CIO President John Sweeney \(who adUnion President Andy Stern told the press that they expected the President, encouraged by a presumably Democratic congress, to defend labor in return, and that they would be less than forgiving if he failed to do so. \(Both men owed their new positions at least partly to the perceived passivity of Lane Kirkland’s leadership to see how their polite warnings were to be enforced. Texan Linda Chavez-Thompson \(now an AFL-CIO Vice Presito the Texas delegation, she defended Clinton’s recorddefending pension funds, stopping the TEAM act \(creating so-called workers’ JACKSON’S EXTRAORDINARY SPEECH, MUCH OF IT APPARENTLY IMPROVISED, HAD A DESPERATE, SHATTERED ELOQUENCE, AS THOUGH HE WERE TRYING TO CONVINCE HIMSELF OF THE OPPRESSIVE BUT NECESSARY FORCE OF HIS OWN LOGIC. SEPTEMBER 13, 1996 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7
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