March 15, 2001

Experts Attempt to Assess Bush Policy

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In a vigorous three-way debate examining an early policy initiative of President George W. Bush, Prof. Isaac Kramnick, government, Prof. Jeremy Rabkin, government, and George Ferrari ’84, the director of Catholic Charities of the Southern Tier, presented contrasting views on the implications of melding religion and welfare.

The debate, titled “Government Funding of Faith-Based Charities and The First Amendment: Are they Compatible?” was sponsored by the Cornell Civil Liberties Union, United Progressives, Watermargin, Cornell Democrats, College Republicans and Cornell Libertarians.

The faith-based initiative attempts to expand the charitable-choice provisions of the 1996 welfare reform law by easing restrictions on religious groups receiving government money to feed the hungry, help the poor, and rehabilitate the addicted.

Kramnick questioned whether the Bush administration’s “motive for this public policy [is] to help religious groups, which is not the job of the government, or