Time for another reform

Time for another reform

Charleston (W.Va.) Gazette: Back in 1996, President Bill Clinton reformed America’s welfare system into mostly a get-a-job program — outraging many fellow Democrats who felt that monthly welfare checks were crucial for survival of desperate families. Three officials of the Clinton administration quit in protest of this safety net curtailment.

But welfare reform turned out to be a practical, sensible success that caused less suffering than liberals had feared. America’s number of welfare recipients fell from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million in 2006. Sixty percent of mothers who left welfare found jobs. More than 20,000 businesses were induced to hire 1.1 million former welfare clients.

Today, another Democratic “sacred cow” — the entitlement programs of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — faces possible reform. Again, progressive Democrats adamantly oppose any cuts in benefits.

But we think it might be workable to curb some expense — especially America’s astronomical medical costs — without harming millions of Americans.

President Barack Obama has shown willingness to begin trimming that portion of the safety net. In “fiscal cliff” negotiating, he offered to cut hundreds of billions in Medicare spending over the next decade. This could be a wise course.

America spends vastly more on medical care than other advanced democracies do — yet Americans have inferior health. Steps to reduce medical costs are just good sense.

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