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The Failure of Welfare Reform Is 'Exhibit A' That the Right's Punish-the-Poor Philosophy Doesn't Work

Our welfare reform experiment is little more than a confidence trick in which poor people get shuffled this way and that while their lives remain essentially unchanged.

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Welfare reform, it turns out, was just the warmup. It was a test-case and a prophecy, "a new beginning" after all. And as the first hard yank on the threads holding together the country's safety net -- its social contract to provide for the needy -- it should have been a clarion warning. Welfare reform was an attack on all of us.

Lizzy Ratner is a journalist in New York City. From 1998 to 2000, she was a welfare rights advocate in New York City.

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