From the Center for American Progress (http://www.americanprogress.org):
August 22, 2016 | Rebecca Vallas & Jeremy Slevin
In 1996, Congress replaced the New Deal-era Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with a new program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), under the guise of “ending welfare as we know it.”
The new law built on decades of anti-welfare sentiment, which Ronald Reagan popularized in 1976 with the racially-loaded myth of the “welfare queen.” In the two decades that followed, progressives and conservatives alike put forward reform proposals aimed at boosting work and reducing welfare receipt. Progressive proposals included expanded childcare assistance, paid leave, and tax credits for working families. Conservatives, on the other hand, tended to favor punitive work requirements—without any of the corresponding investments to address barriers to employment.
In 1996, after vetoing two Republican proposals that drastically cut the program’s funding, President Bill Clinton signed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act into law. The new legislation converted AFDC into a flat-funded block grant—TANF—and sent it to the states to administer.
The law’s stated purpose was to move families from “welfare to work.” By that measure, supporters initially heralded TANF as a success during the strong, full-employment economy of the late 1990s. But too often, the narrative stops there, ignoring significant failings in the program that surfaced after the economy slowed down.
Read more at https://talkpoverty.org/2016/08/22/everything-wanted-know-1996-welfare-law-afraid-ask/.