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Abstract

This essay provides an historical overview of welfare reform efforts prior to enactment of The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 by the 104th Congress. The author argues that the 1996 Act reaffirmed the labor market as the major arbiter of economic well-being of American citizens. In so doing, passage of the Act signified the formal end of income maintenance for able-bodied parents and released the federal government from assuming major responsibility for reducing poverty per se.