Regarding the politics of welfare reform, there is a great lesson to be learned, particularly in todayâ€™s hyper-partisan environment, where the Republican leadership forces bills through Congress without even a hint of bipartisanship. Simply put, welfare reform worked because we all worked together. The 1996 Welfare Act shows us how much we can achieve when both parties bring their best ideas to the negotiating table and focus on doing what is best for the country.Now, back to June 8 when former House Majority Leader Tom Delay delivered his farewell address to the chamber. When the welfare bill passed through the House, Delay held the office of majority whip. The whip is the member charged with keeping party leadership informed about how the caucus will vote. The term was lifted from British Parliament, where it was borrowed from fox hunting. Delay is so famous for cracking down on wayward members that the word could no longer do him justice. They dubbed him "The Hammer."
I found that it is customary in speeches such as these to reminisce about the good old days of political harmony and across-the-aisle camaraderie, and to lament the bitter, divisive partisan rancor that supposedly now weakens our democracy. Well, I can't do that because partisanship, Mr. Speaker, properly understood, is not a symptom of democracy's weakness but of its health and its strength, especially from the perspective of a political conservative.And what does The Hammer claim as one of the chief victories of his take-no-prisoners brand of conservatism? You guessed it, welfare reform.
We reformed welfare programs that however well intentioned undermined the dignity of work and personal responsibility and perpetuated poverty.Maybe it depends upon what meaning of the word 'we' is.