Hundreds of thousands to STAND FOR CHILDREN

Charlotte Kates ckates at
Fri May 31 18:03:39 MDT 1996

>**Hundreds of thousands to STAND FOR CHILDREN**
>(Reprinted from the June 1, 1996 issue of the People's
>Weekly World. May be reprinted or reposted with PWW credit.
>For subscription information see below)
>By Fred Gaboury
>WASHINGTON - Hundreds of thousands of children, their
>parents and their advocates are streaming into the nation's
>capital to "stand for children" June 1 - and well they
>The Children's Defense Fund (CDF) has charged that children
>have been among those who have suffered the most from
>cutbacks in human needs programs under the Republican
>Contract on America. CDF says they have been targeted again
>in the 1997 Budget Resolution that has cleared both houses
>of Congress.
>In her call for massive participation in the June 1 action,
>Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president of CDF, said,
>"It is time to draw a line in the sand" for doing no harm to
>children and putting children first "with our actions and
>not just our words."
>Edelman characterized 1995 as a "year of pervasive,
>preventable and unacceptable child suffering, death, neglect
>and abuse." She invited all who have "had enough of
>political leaders from all parties [who use] children as
>political props and pawns ... to come stand with us" on June
>Stand for Children coincides with the Republican drive to
>push welfare and Medicaid "reform" through Congress before
>the Nov. 5 elections. Last Wednesday Republicans introduced
>legislation in the House that would cut more than $700
>billion from Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC),
>Medicaid and other lifeline programs for children, seniors
>and the disabled by 2002. The legislation not only cuts
>funding for these programs, it terminates them as federal
>entitlements guaranteed to all who meet federally-defined
>eligibility requirements.
>CDF says that the GOP legislation would deny Supplemental
>Security Income benefits to at least 300,000 children with
>disabilities by 2002 and would repeal current Medicaid
>guarantees for five million children ages 13 to 18. Changes
>in Earned Income Tax Credit would leave about 3.5 million
>families with children worse off than they are now.
>Welfare rights activists are particularly concerned about
>the "block granting" of welfare contained in the
>legislation. Edelman says the proposal, which gives states a
>fixed lump sum to fund welfare programs, can be compared to
>destroying the foundation of a house - that by shifting
>control of programs like AFDC and Medicaid to the states,
>the very concept that the poor, the disabled and the aging
>are entitled to a federally guaranteed social safety net is
>"Cuts in funding are like rearranging the furniture in a
>house but block grants tear at its foundations," she told a
>New York rally last fall. Edelman said it had taken years to
>win these entitlements and that it would be "very difficult
>to win them back if they are lost."
>Last September Democratic senators supported - and President
>Clinton endorsed - welfare legislation that called for block
>grants. However, he was forced to retreat in the face of
>public opinion, sparked in part by an open letter from
>Edelman reminding the president that the decision to accept
>or reject the legislation was a "defining moment" for his
>It now appears that another defining moment has come. Only
>days ago Clinton expressed a willingness to allow Wisconsin
>to implement its "W-2 Program" - legislation that even its
>supporters admit will eliminate most cash benefits.
>Organizers of Stand for Children plan to cause the president
>to reconsider his remarks.
>Marcus White, program director of the Interfaith Conference
>of Milwaukee, describes W-2 as a precursor of what is to
>follow if states are given block grants and then allowed to
>"design their own welfare programs." He said that although
>W-2 will help some working families it is a "sad fact" that
>it drives half of those presently on AFDC deeper into
>Bill Dempsey, director of the Campaign for a Sustainable
>Milwaukee, says that state efforts to deal with welfare are
>a back door attempt by the right wing to accomplish
>piecemeal what they've not yet been able to accomplish on
>the national level. "The best way to end 'welfare as we know
>it' is to end poverty as we know it," he said.
>-Tim Wheeler contributed to this story.
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    Charlotte L. Kates     ckates at        Collingswood, NJ

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