Report: NYT Columnist Faces Liberal Backlash on Welfare Reform

Wednesday, 12 Dec 2012 08:14 PM

By Todd Beamon

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Liberal New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof has received an unusual response to his recent call for welfare reform — support from conservatives and fierce attacks from liberals.

Kristof, 53, said in a Sunday Times op-ed piece that the government should stop giving welfare checks to poverty-stricken children with disabilities, ABC News reports.

The Social Security and welfare payments, he said, perpetuate continued poverty in America.

The article, titled “Profiting from a Child’s Illiteracy,” marks a huge departure for Kristof, whose longtime support of worldwide human rights has brought him two Pulitzer Prizes since joining the Times in 1984.

But this time, conservatives like MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough are heaping praise on Kristof, ABC reports.

"Whether you're in Midtown Manhattan or at the Capitol in Washington, you now have generations of Americans that have been raised with this as a way of life," Scarborough told Kristof during an interview on his Monday “Morning Joe” program.

"And the great question is, how do we break the cycle?"

Quoting conservative scholar Richard Burkhauser, Kristof suggested in the column that reinforcing learning programs for children would overcome illiteracy, ABC reports.

"I hope that the budget negotiations in Washington may offer us a chance to take money from S.S.I. and invest in early childhood initiatives instead," Kristof wrote.

The reference was to Supplemental Security Income, a program financed by the U.S. Treasury that gives stipends to low-income children and elderly or disabled adults.

But Kristof’s column has brought attacks from such liberals as Esquire magazine blogger Charles Pierce.

“Oh, dear god, have I seen this movie before,” Pierce said in a Tuesday posting. “You have the heartbroken local bureaucrat without any specific examples, just 'many people.' You have the statistics-free analysis of programs, and you have the pet 'scholar' from the American Enterprise Institute who, in a stunning coincidence, writes a book concluding pretty much the same thing about social-welfare programs that everyone else at AEI believes.

“And, of course, there is the anguished liberal conscience of the Times columnist,” Pierce added. “What's missing, of course, are any of the actual people who allegedly are getting fat on disability payments."

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