Agenda Item: Social Issues
A plan to "end welfare as we know it" will be a centerpiece of the President's domestic agenda. He backs a two-year cutoff of benefits but will resist the punitive GOP approach and urge that recipients who can't find work be placed in jobs programs. Chastened on health care, Administration officials such as Donna Shalala will work for limited reform built around cost containment and a gradual expansion of benefits to children and pregnant women. The Administration may give states more latitude to test new solutions to social ills.
Big priority: A "put 'em behind bars" amendment to the 1994 crime bill that would beef up mandatory penalties and strip out prevention programs. The conservative version of welfare reform would bump people off the rolls after two years and deny benefits to welfare mothers who continue to have children. Some Republicans might push for a modest health-care plan that makes coverage more portable, expands insurance access for small businesses, and limits malpractice judgments. To the dismay of Jack Kemp and others, hardliners such as Pat Buchanan would curb benefits to illegal immigrants. GOP governors will stress school vouchers and privatization.