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Bush Promotes Welfare Reform Plan - 2002-05-10

President Bush wants Congress to give states more authority to force people on welfare find work. The president says he wants to build on the success of bipartisan welfare reform passed during the Clinton administration.

As Congress prepares to re-authorize public assistance, Mr. Bush says they should focus even more on helping welfare recipients find work so they are no longer dependent on federal help. "As we re-authorize the welfare bill, it is essential that we always remember the importance of work in our society," Mr. Bush said Friday. "That work helps people achieve the dignity in their lives. If you believe that every person has got value, like I believe, then we ought to help that person find work."

The president's plan would make people on welfare work 40 hours a week at either a job or in programs designed to help them find work.

Over the next five years, the president wants 70 percent of welfare recipients to have jobs that make them independent of the program.

Democrats say increasing work requirements will make it harder for states to come up with the best way to help each person get off welfare. They also want more spending on vocational training.

President Bush says his work requirements are an ambitious goal, but one he says will help restore self-confidence among those currently receiving assistance. "Oh, I have heard them complain about that's too high a goal. That is not too high a goal if it helps a person," Mr. Bush said. "If it brings dignity into someone's life, it is not too high a goal."

The president spoke at a community center in the midwest state of Ohio where a variety of religious and civic groups work with local government to help welfare recipients find jobs.

He says his reforms encourage state and local governments to be more innovative in helping people move off welfare while allowing legal immigrants to receive food assistance for up to five years after their arrival in the United States.

The president spent much of the week discussing domestic issues including welfare and education reform as campaigning begins for Congressional and state elections in November.

He helped raise money for Republican candidates in Wisconsin and Michigan, which, along with Ohio, are key to Republican hopes of maintaining a majority in the House of Representatives and regaining a majority in the Senate.

In Ohio Friday, Mr. Bush spoke at a fundraiser for Republican Governor Bob Taft. It is expected to raise $1.6 million for the governor's campaign and another $500,000 for the Ohio Republican party.