Economic Justice - Social Safety Net
The passage of the 1996 Welfare Act by Congress and its signing by the President confronts us with hard choices. Democrats and Republicans seem to be saying the country cannot afford to care for children and poor mothers.
In ending over fifty years of federal policy guaranteeing cash assistance for poor children, Congress has set in motion a radical experiment that will have a profound impact on the lives of the weakest members of our society. How will state, city and county governments, local communities, businesses and religious institutions — all of us — respond?
We have a special responsibility to the health and wellbeing of the young. Yet we see the federal safety net being removed and replaced with limited and potentially harsh state welfare programs. How will social services be adequately provided if local resources are already stretched thin?
Our community priorities must first protect the young and helpless. Yet how will state legislatures and agencies, under pressure from more powerful interests, react?
Local decision-making is important, but we realize, as we learned during the civil rights era, that strict federal standards must guide state actions in providing basic protections.
As the richest nation in history, we should not condemn millions of children to a life of poverty, while corporate welfare is increased to historic highs.
We must oppose the privatization of Social Security. It is critical that the public protections of Social Security are not privatized and subjected to increased risk. The bottom 20% of American senior citizens get roughly 80% of their income from Social Security, and without Social Security, nearly 70% of black elderly and 60% of Latino elderly households would be in poverty.