The Republican, Springfield, Mass.: The landmark 1996 welfare reform act requiring almost all parents to work -- including those with preschool- age and younger children -- is due to expire at the end of the month, and legislation now before Congress calls for even stiffer work requirements.
The Bush administration's rationale for the tougher rules was bluntly expressed by a White House spokesman, "Part-time work doesn't get you out of poverty," he said. "Let's not have a system that throws a party when people get part-time jobs."
Requiring parents to work full-time hours, however, means that they'll have to pay more for child care. And that's if they can find it.
Under the current system, child-care subsidies -- and the nation's supply of care providers -- have not kept pace with the needs of hundreds of thousands of workers on welfare and other low-income workers who are not welfare-dependent.
Without increased subsidies, poverty will continue to be a way of life for far too many Americans, and their children's futures will be bleak. The societal price will be high. Surely, that's nothing to party about.