George W. Bush on Welfare & Poverty

Housing: Help low-income purchasers, and housing developers

Source: Washington Post, p. G5 Oct 28, 2000

Housing: Use HUD rental vouchers for first home purchase

Creation of an “American Dream Downpayment Fund,” which would allow low-income families to use up to a year’s worth of HUD Section 8 rental vouchers to make a down payment on a home. “When a low-income family is qualified to buy a house but comes up short on the down payment, we will help them,” Bush said. “If they and the bank can come up with 25% of the down payment, the government will pay the rest, up to $1,500.” Section 8 vouchers can already be used to help with mortgage payments.
Source: Washington Post, p. G5 Oct 28, 2000

Bush’s Texan philosophy for the poor: up-by-the-bootstraps

From 1995 to 1998, the poverty rate in Texas decreased more than 10%, compared with an almost 9% drop nationwide. Tax cuts & economic reforms have resulted in the lowest state unemployment rate in nearly 20 years; welfare reform has cut public assistance rolls in half; and legal changes have expanded the role of religious groups in helping the poor.

In many ways, Bush’s record dovetails with the Texas worldview, which places the burden for escaping poverty on the poor, not the government. Conservative groups and analysts praise the governor and his actions precisely for their strong embrace of basic Republican philosophies. Texas has an up-by-the-bootstraps culture and people often loath to give-or ask for-help. The Texas Constitution prohibits the Legislature from spending more than 1% of the state budget on poor children. Cash welfare benefits are $201 a month for a mother and two children in 1995. California, by comparison, pays $611 a month for a similar family.

Source: La Ganga & Miller, L.A. Times Oct 16, 2000

Blueprint: promote charity, community, and safety

Source: Blueprint for the Middle Class Sep 17, 2000

Transform low-income rentals to home ownership

We will transform today’s housing rental program to help hundreds of thousands of low-income families find stability and dignity in a home of their own. And, in the next bold step of welfare reform, we will support the heroic work of homeless shelters and hospices, food pantries and crisis pregnancy centers -- people reclaiming their communities block-by-block and heart-by-heart. My administration will give taxpayers new incentives to donate to charity.
Source: Speech to Republican National Convention Aug 3, 2000

Focus welfare on transition to work & responsibility

Bush has called for a $8 billion plan to get religious and other volunteer organizations to assume more responsibilities for the needy. He supports welfare time limits, work and education requirements. He has proposed a requirement that unwed teen mothers live at home or in group home. In Texas, Bush proposed increased child-care aid and other transition benefits.
Source: NY Times Jun 5, 2000

$1.7B over 5 years for home rehabs in poor neighborhoods

Bush today unveiled a plan to encourage private developers to build and rehabilitate houses in run-down, struggling neighborhoods. The incentive would be money: $1.7 billion, over five years, in federal tax credits for developers working in poor and moderate-income areas. Bush estimated that the program would make work easier on as many as 20,000 houses a year. More important, he said, it would introduce to an increasing number of Americans the experience of home ownership, which he described as a fundamental aspiration that should be more easily attainable. “Part of the American dream is owning your own home,” Bush said. “Part of the American dream is saying, This place is mine.” In recognition of that, Mr. Bush said, he continually asks-and tries to answer-the question, “How do I help people own? Not just those who are entrepreneurs or those at the top of the economic ladder-how do we help every willing heart, everybody in America, own a piece of this great land? And I’ve got some ideas.”
Source: Frank Bruni, NY Times, part of “Renewing America’s Purpose” Apr 19, 2000

50% tax credits for 20,000 home rehabs per year

Bush would allow developers to apply for as much as 50% of the cost of their work on certain houses in tax credits. The houses in question would have to be for people making no more than 80% of the median family income in their area-nationally, the median is about $51,000-and living in neighborhoods where most residents fall into the same income bracket. The impact of the plan, which Bush’s aides said could contribute to the building or rehabilitation of 100,000 houses over five years, would be limited. But a Bush aide said the new housing initiative, like the others, was a supplement to an array of existing federal housing programs. “We’re not aiming today to solve the nation’s housing problems,” he said. “What we’ve proposed over the last week is a bucket of new tools.” [Unlike Gore’s low-income housing plan, which is aimed at subsidizing rent], Bush’s initiatives are specifically aimed at home ownership, which he described as a catalyst for safer streets and better schools.
Source: Frank Bruni, New York Times Apr 19, 2000

New Prosperity Initiative: rent vouchers; homeowner credits

Source: Fact Sheet: “New Prosperity Initiative/Renewing America” Apr 11, 2000

$1B & tax credits for Individual Development Accounts

The 1996 Welfare Reform law allowed states to incorporate matched savings accounts-“Individual Development Accounts” (IDAs)-into their welfare programs. IDAs are designed to help low-income families accumulate wealth. Financial institutions, charities, & faith-based groups match low-income depositors’ savings. Depositors can then withdraw the funds for education, homeownership, and entrepreneurship.
Source: Fact Sheet: “New Prosperity Initiative/Renewing America” Apr 11, 2000

Remove tax “tollbooths” for poor single moms

“The hardest job in America is to be a single mom, making $20,000 a year,” Bush declared. He promised that as president, he would reduce the struggling woman’s marginal income tax rate and “knock down her tollbooth to the middle class.”
Source: Boston Globe, p. A1 Jan 22, 2000

Supports low-income heating oil assistance program

Bush said he strongly backed a federal program to provide heating oil assistance to low-income residents. “I do support LIHEAP,” Bush said, referring to the federal Low Income Heat & Energy Assistance Program, which has provided billions in relief to families during the cold winter months. At last week’s debate, Bush said he would push for more oil exploration but did not mention LIHEAP. However, he said he has always backed the program and would oppose efforts in Congress to impose cuts.
Source: Boston Herald, p. 14 Dec 9, 1999

Work and responsibility to replace welfare

Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p. 32 Dec 9, 1999

Too much government fosters dependency

The new culture said if people were poor, the government should feed them. If criminals are not responsible for their acts, then the answers are not in prisons, but in social programs. People became less interested in pulling themselves up by their bootstraps and more interested in pulling down a monthly government check. A culture of dependency was born. Programs that began as a temporary hand-up became a permanent handout, regarded by many as a right.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.229-230 Dec 9, 1999

George W. Bush on Faith-based organizations

Government solving social problems crowds out compassion

My concern about the role of the federal government is that an intrusive government, a government that says, ‘Don’t worry, we will solve your problems’ is a government that tends to crowd compassion out of the marketplace, that too often in the past people said: ‘Somebody else will take care of the problem in my area. Don’t worry. The government is here.’

The problem with that point of view is that government can hand out money. No question about it. And we will in the Bush administration in a responsible way. But what government cannot do is put hope in people’s hearts, a sense of purpose in people’s lives. Government cannot make people love one another. I wish it could. I’d sign the law.

I’m here for a reason: to make it as clear as I can the power that faith can play in people’s lives, the notion that a soul searches for a better way and that there are programs throughout our society where a loving person puts an arm around a shoulder and says, ‘Somebody loves you, brother or sister.’

Source: Remarks at Cityteam Ministries, San Jose, CA Oct 31, 2000

Devolve welfare to both state and private charities

Source: The Economist, “Issues 2000” special Sep 30, 2000

Fund faith-based private programs that promote independence

The cornerstone of Bush’s welfare reform agenda gives states the flexibility to fund private, public or faith based programs that successfully move people from welfare to work. Welfare reform is an ongoing mission. Through successful efforts in states across America, millions of people have moved from welfare to work, and Bush says we must continue to help others develop the skills and find the jobs that will lead to truly independent lives. Bush said, “I have made welfare reform a priority as Governor, and I will do so as president. I will renew our national commitment to the principles of welfare reform: Job training. Independence. Personal responsibility. A safety net for those who still face struggle. And flexibility for the states, to continue doing the fine work we see here today.“
Source: Press Release, “Welfare Reform” Jun 27, 2000

Compassion Capital Fund to foster church-based welfare

Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

Church-based solutions for drugs, daycare, & crime

Source: ‘Issues: Policy Points Overview’ Apr 2, 2000

“No-strings” vouchers for religious groups to do charity

Bush advocates letting government rely on religious groups to handle social issues. His attitude toward the federal role in administering [drug programs and other social] programs is, essentially, that the government should not have any restrictions at all. “This is a program that receives no federal or state money. I asked the director, would you accept a voucher attached to a person seeking help? The director said yes, under only one condition: No strings. And I agree with that concept.”
Source: Boston Globe, p. A12 Jan 22, 2000

Religious charities deserve government support

Participation in faith-based programs must be voluntary, and we must make sure secular alternatives are available. But government should welcome the active involvement of people who are following a religious imperative to love their neighbors through after-school programs, child care, drug treatment, maternity group homes, and a range of other services. Supporting these men and women. is the next bold step of welfare reform.
Source: “A Charge to Keep”, p.232 Dec 9, 1999

Churches provide “armies of compassion” to help the poor

Bush spoke so often about “armies of compassion” -- the phrase he uses to communicate his idea that churches and charity groups, rather than Government, should assist the poor -- that he sounded like something of a drill sergeant. Bush’s aides said the Baptist church at which Bush spoke was chosen because it was known for for helping the poor with its own resources. “Government can hand out money,” Bush said. “But what it cannot do is put hope in our hearts and a sense of purpose in our lives.”
Source: New York Times, p. A18 Oct 5, 1999

Look first to faith-based organizations

“In every instance where my administration sees a responsibility to help people, we will look first to faith-based organizations, charities and community groups that have shown their ability to save and change lives.” Governor Bush has stressed the necessity of encouraging acts of compassion. “These aren’t ‘crumbs of compassion’ to people whose lives are changed, they are the hope of renewal. These are not the crumbs, they are the bread of life. They are strengthening the soul of America,” he said.
Source: News Release: “Great Outdoors” Aug 11, 1999

Religious groups compete for state service contracts

Source: “Faith in Action” Jun 12, 1999

Other candidates on Welfare & Poverty: George W. Bush on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Bill Clinton
Jesse Ventura
Ross Perot
Ralph Nader
Pat Buchanan
John McCain
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Foreign Policy
Free Trade
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Gun Control
Health Care
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