R. Shep Melnick


"It is indeed a constitutional moment." Thus spoke Senator Moynihan in his stinging critique of the first version of that was to become the welfare reform act of 1996. Certainly enactment of welfare reform by the 104th Congress and President Clinton was a highly significant political event. The legislation not only gave more control to the states, but demonstrated that cutting entitlements is not politically infeasible. But does this policy shift rise to the level of constitutional change? Does Senator Moynihan's statement reflect his extraordinary prescience on matters related to public assistance-or his equally characteristic flair for rhetorical overstatement?

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