Child Care Support for Welfare Recipients

From the NYTimes:

In a direct rebuff to the White House, the Senate voted today to increase the amount of money available to provide child care to welfare recipients, who would be subject to stricter work requirements under sweeping welfare legislation favored by President Bush and Congressional leaders.

The vote, 78 to 20, expressed broad bipartisan support for a proposal to add a total of $6 billion to child care programs over the next five years, beyond the additional $1 billion already included in the bill. The federal government now earmarks $4.8 billion a year for such child care assistance.

The vote came one day after the Bush administration expressed its objections to increasing the child care grant, saying in a written statement that it was not needed.

Why does the Bush administration go out of its way to make life more difficult for the most disadvantaged in this country? The cost of providing extra child care support is minimal – just over $1bn per year – and the benefit can be enormous to individuals on welfare, who are told to return to work even if their child care bills exceed the potential income they would earn from working. It may even be the case that increased support for child care will largely pay for itself by moving more people from the welfare rolls and onto private payrolls. So in addition to being mean-spirited, the White House position on this issue makes no economic sense.