President Clinton on Saturday directed the heads of all federal agencies and departments to take steps within a month to hire welfare recipients, a move intended to enlist the nation’s largest employer in the effort to reduce public assistance rolls.
Under legislation Clinton signed last August to overhaul the welfare system, able-bodied recipients are forced off welfare rolls in two years, a requirement that critics say could expand the underclass.
Advocates for the poor blistered the president for supporting Republican-drafted reform without giving the federal government a clear role in helping those displaced.
Saturday, Clinton sought to fend off attacks that he helped “destroy the national safety net” by adding a federal government component to his calls to business leaders to hire those who are being required to leave the welfare rolls.
“All the rest of us have our responsibility, indeed, our moral obligation, to make welfare reform work, to make sure that those who must now work, can work,” Clinton said in his weekly radio address.
To underscore the importance of the directive, Clinton placed Vice President Gore in charge of the initiative and gave agency heads 30 days to present him with detailed plans for recruiting and hiring qualified welfare recipients.