Welfare: Is Schwarzenegger taking California back to the bad old days?


With the unemployment rate hitting a 26-year high and government stimulus plans searching for ways to generate jobs, state budget shortfalls are putting more traditional welfare and employee-support programs on the chopping block. In California, where the jobless rate has hit its highest point since 1940, brutal cuts in welfare spending are providing a harbinger of dark things to come.

For much of its lifetime, welfare -- officially, Aid to Families with Dependent Children -- was effectively unlimited; qualifying families could draw on government benefits virtually forever. But in 1996, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act completely changed the face of the program, placing lifetime limits on welfare recipients and actively encouraging employment.