David Ellwood

David T. Ellwood is Malcolm Weiner Professor and academic dean at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. From 1992 to 1994, he served as assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Recent Articles

Welfare Reform as I Knew It: When Bad Things Happen to Good Policies

"I'll look forward to reading your book on why it failed this time," Senator Moynihan told me on my first visit as cochair of the Clinton working group on welfare reform. Herewith, the first installment.

S enator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, a friend of some years, was the first to sound the warning. When I met with him shortly after arriving in Washington in February of 1993, he said, "So you've come to do welfare reform. . . . I'll look forward to reading your book about why it failed this time." Well, Senator, consider this the first installment. In May 1994, a Times-Mirror poll asked the following question: One proposal currently being discussed to reform welfare would require all able-bodied welfare recipients, including women with pre-school children, to go to school for two years to learn a skill while receiving benefits. After that, they would be required to either get a job or take a job the government would give them and their welfare benefits would be discontinued. Child care would be provided for the children of working mothers. Do you favor or oppose this proposal? Ninety-one percent said they favored such an approach. The Times-Mirror question captured very closely the...

Was Welfare Reform Worthwhile?

T here is no question that David Ellwood, the Clinton administration's chief welfare intellectual, has been on a rough ride. But the political lessons he draws are less than useful (see " Welfare Reform As I Knew It ," May-June 1996). To discuss lessons, we need some agreement about what happened. Ellwood thinks more has been accomplished in the way of reform than most people realize and names among other things the waivers that have allowed state welfare-to-work initiatives. I think Douglas Besharov showed the keener judgment when he said at an American Enterprise Institute meeting in April that "Based on what happened in the last year, President Clinton can justifiably claim he has ended welfare as we know it." Besharov points to the veritable flood of state waiver requests and approvals as "welfare reform on the cheap" without an increase in spending for child care or "a penny for job training." The "revolutionary" result is an "end to personal entitlement." Besharov has reason to...