Public Papers

Exchange With Reporters Prior to a Meeting on Welfare Reform


Welfare Reform

The President. Photo opportunity here on welfare reform. We're delighted to have the Governor here -- the leadership that he displays in reform and welfare. And we are glad that this administration is also taking a leadership role and making it easier, Tommy, for States like yours to innovate and help people get off the dependency of welfare. And we respect you for what you're doing, and I'm glad that this action we're taking will facilitate the implementation of your plan. It'll be a good example for the rest of the country. We can all learn from that; all the States can learn from it. So we're glad you're here.

Q. Do you expect to have a Federal plan, Mr. President, changes?

The President. Well, I think the main thing here which we're doing at this juncture is to facilitate innovation by the States. In a sense, they're laboratories, but they're also on the firing line. This Governor has been way out front in innovation with Learnfare, Workfare, encouraging education to break the cycle of dependency. So we will have more to say on the Federal role later, but the thing for the moment is, speed up the relief that's necessary so these States can put into effect the kind of programs they think will work. These States aren't all the same. Welfare problems in Milwaukee are quite different than those in Juneau, Alaska, for example, or in California someplace. So this is a good step, and I'm very proud of Governor Thompson for his leadership.

Q. The Wisconsin plan penalizes women who have more than one child out of wedlock. Is that the kind of concept, Mr. President, that you would support?

The President. I'm very interested in the innovation of the Wisconsin plan. I want to see how it works. The Governor can defend or criticize any aspect of his own plan he wants. The Federal role is to encourage these Governors to do exactly what this Governor has done.

Q. But do you endorse that? Is that why you're giving -- --

The President. I'm not going into it point by point. I'm sure I have great confidence in him. If he thinks it's smart, that would be very persuasive with me. I can't say I know every detail of his plan.

British Elections

Q. Were you pleased with Mr. Major's victory?

The President. It was substantial, and it was wonderful. And I'll have more to say to you all later about that. I plan to meet with you a little more formally in something other than a photo op.

Q. Any parallel -- --

The President. So get your questions ready. [Laughter]

Q. Today?

Q. Before you leave? Is that when we're going to have something?

The President. No. We'll do something, I think, in the press room.

Q. What time?

The President. Well, we're working on that now. We have a lot to discuss.

Note: The exchange began at 9:40 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House, prior to a meeting with Secretary of Health and Human Services Louis W. Sullivan and Gov. Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin.