- The Washington Times - Monday, June 17, 2002

Broken crystal balls
House Majority Leader Dick Armey thought he'd have a little fun by revisiting widespread predictions of gloom and doom in advance of landmark 1996 welfare reform legislation.
"I thought I'd look into the past to see what some other prognosticators said back in 1996," says the Texas Republican, "and let you know how things turned out."
The first person he calls upon is Marian Wright Edelman, president of the Children's Defense Fund. She dismissed the 1996 welfare reform bill as an "outrage that will hurt and impoverish millions of American children" and "leave a moral blot on [Bill Clintons] presidency and on our nation that will never be forgotten."
What really happened?
"There are 2.3 million fewer children living in poverty today," Mr. Armey said.
And what about that blot on Mr. Clinton?
"The 'moral blot' on the Clinton presidency had nothing to do with the 1996 welfare reform bill," he says.
The next person revisited is Patricia Ireland, president of the National Organization for Women. She warned that the bill "places 12.8 million people on welfare at risk of sinking further into poverty and homelessness."
Then there was the Urban Institute, which projected the welfare reform bill would push 2.6 million people into poverty and cause 8 million families with children to lose income.
And finally Peter Edelman, assistant secretary of the Health and Human Services Department, who actually resigned his post in protest of Mr. Clinton signing the legislation. Mr. Edelman claimed that the law would lead to "more malnutrition and more crime, increased infant mortality, and increased drug and alcohol abuse and abuse against children and women."
What really happened? Says Mr. Armey:
There are 4.2 million fewer people living in poverty today.
The poverty rate of single mothers is at its lowest point in U.S. history.
Employment of single mothers has nearly doubled and employment of mothers without a high school diploma has increased by 60 percent.
The share of children living in single-mother families has fallen, with no correlated increase in abuse against women and children.
"You can see the track record of these so-called experts is about as accurate as the astrological predictions in a supermarket tabloid," the majority leader says.

Equal opportunity
It would appear that no vocation has benefited more from mass U.S. immigration than the world's "oldest profession," the American Council for Immigration Reform concludes after its review of Yellow Pages listings for "Escort" and "Massage."
"These ads indicate a variety of ethnicities are available," says the council. "There are drawings of ideal women of all nationalities, operatives are said to speak many languages and sometimes the nationalities of the staff are listed. What could be more obvious?"
It cites one report of young Chinese escorts in the United States on student visas working 12 hours a day. When not studying, of course.

Green for grass
Americans can make money growing grass if one U.S. Senate candidate has his way.
Georgia Republican Bob Irvin says that if elected, he will propose that Congress grant private citizens federal tax credits in exchange for purchasing green space. Under the plan, individuals and businesses acquiring vacant spaces would be entitled to a credit against federal income tax of up to $1,000 a year.
Mr. Irvin says he got the idea from John Mitnick, who ran unsuccessfully for the Georgia state Senate in 2000 and "never got a chance to enact" the legislation.
"I'd like to enact it in Washington," says Mr. Irvin.

No debate
"There were no presidential debates in the campaign of 1820," writes Richard E. Dixon of Clifton, referring to Friday's column that should have read that debates occupied a central role in American politics in campaigns "after 1820," as written by the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate.
"James Monroe was unopposed, receiving every electoral vote but one supposedly cast for John Quincy Adams so George Washington could remain the only unanimous selection," Mr. Dixon says.

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