WE HAVE PASSED another milestone on the road to reforming the welfare system. I want to commend the House for the responsible, forward-looking action it took today in approving the family assistance plan which I proposed last summer. This is a battle won in a crusade for reform that we cannot afford to lose.
Years from now, when historians look back on our times, I believe they will say that this welfare reform is the most important piece of social legislation in almost four decades. There is no proposal I have sent to the Congress more central to my own philosophy of fairness and progress for all the American people.
We all know how the present welfare system breaks up families, demeans human dignity, and condemns poor people to a lifetime on the dole. We cannot let that continue. The family assistance plan offers new hope to the helpless by providing help equally to every dependent family in every State. It offers new fairness to the working poor, by helping them to lift themselves out of poverty. And it offers the taxpayer light at the end of the tunnel, by providing new incentives and job training to get people off welfare rolls and onto payrolls. It combines realism with idealism.
The House has done its duty. Now the Senate has the opportunity to act with the same responsiveness and the same responsibility. The poor and the helpless-- and the taxpayer--need welfare reform now. I am confident, with the action the House has taken today, that the present welfare program, which has been so destructive to millions of American families, is on the way out and that family assistance will take its place.