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Married, and Off the Dole

President Bush hopes to spend $100 million to encourage marriage among people on welfare, as part of an effort at further welfare reform. With so many children born out of wedlock to welfare recipients, that's not a bad idea.

Mr. Bush's plan would be voluntary, aimed at couples who want to be married. Nonprofit and church-related groups could apply for grants.

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If more welfare households could be stabilized, with two parents in a committed relationship, children would be much better off and the cycle of public dependency may be broken.

That's a tall order for any couple contemplating marriage, much less for people enmeshed in poverty and past relationship difficulties.

One new study looked at a trend toward more two-adult households among welfare recipients, but found most of that trend involved unmarried couples. Instability was endemic in both married and unmarried households.

This underscores the difficulties of the Bush plan. But there should be little doubt that they're worth making. If parents on welfare want to try to make a marriage work and give their children its benefits, a helping hand from society is well deserved.


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