Chapter

. Business Interests, Conservative Think Tanks, and the Assault on Welfare

Ellen Reese

in Backlash against Welfare Mothers

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520244610
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520938717 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520244610.003.0009
. Business Interests, Conservative Think Tanks, and the Assault on Welfare

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This chapter argues that the rise of a tightly integrated network of right-wing, or “ultra-conservative,” corporate-sponsored think tanks, starting in the late 1970s, played a crucial role in shifting political debate about welfare rightward and undermining public support for welfare in the 1980s and 1990s. It shows that business support for restrictive welfare policies is linked to the rise of neoliberalism, economic restructuring, and economic globalization. Right-wing think tanks maximize their influence by cultivating ties to policy makers. They aimed to promote the three Ws among the poor: work, wedlock, and worship. A shift in the Brooking Institution’s welfare agenda exemplifies how public debates on welfare narrowed after 1996 Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA)’s passage. Before the enactment of PRWORA, moderate think tanks, such as the Brookings Institution, defended welfare entitlements and opposed block grants and strict time limits for welfare receipt.

Keywords: right-wing think tanks; welfare policies; neoliberalism; economic restructuring; economic globalization; work; wedlock; worship; welfare receipt

Chapter.  8738 words. 

Subjects: Marriage and the Family

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