Poverty & Welfare Conservative & Liberal Views

Poverty and welfare are generally interdependent, for it is the poor who welfare programs aim to help. The debate among conservatives and liberals over poverty and welfare involves distinct disagreements, ideologies, and views about the roles of government. So, too, the backgrounds of conservatives and liberals are often distinct which posits different values between groups. In 1996 Congress passed and President Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (Welfare 2002). Up until this time liberals had mainly controlled the shape of welfare policies in U.S. government. This Act radically changed the American welfare system and shifted U.S. policy to the conservative view. The main changes in the Act were the elimination of unlimited federal aid to the poor and a limit for families on welfare of five years.

In Conflicting Worlds of Welfare Reform, Lawrence M. Mead (1997) gives an excellent synopsis of the differences in ideologies of liberals and conservatives as well as their respective views on the role of government with respect to poverty and welfare. Liberals believes that poverty is caused by "barriers to opportunity such as racism or lack of jobs and child care" (Mead, 1997, 15). In other words, the causes of poverty are socially manifested to liberals, meaning the poor are not responsible for their poverty. Such a viewpoint of the socially oriented causes of poverty,



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