US Social Welfare Policy: The Reagan Record and Legacy
|JOHN O'CONNOR a1|
a1 Department of Sociology, Social and Demographic
Research Institute, University of Massachusetts,
Machmer Hall, Box 34830, Amherst, MA, USA. 01003-7525
This paper reviews the Reagan administration's
attack on the US welfare
system during the 1980s. The paper considers the origins, provisions
and impact of Reagan's three major pieces of retrenchment legislation:
the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1981, the Social Security
Amendments of 1983, and the Family Support Act of 1988. It is argued
that Reagan's record in retrenching welfare was limited in budgetary
terms, but was successful in making welfare programmes more restrictive.
Reagan's welfare legacy is assessed in terms of his attempts at
restructuring social provision and shifting the welfare debate to the right.
The paper concludes by asserting that Reagan's critique of, and attack
on, social provision was accepted by his presidential successors, George
Bush and Bill Clinton.