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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

President Bush Discusses Welfare Reform

Aired June 3, 2002 - 14:13   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: One of the events we have been waiting for, to hear President Bush in Little Rock, Arkansas today, talking about his ideas of welfare reform.

Let's listen in.

(JOINED IN PROGRESS)

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... lower the bar, lower the standards. You're not going to get the results you want in a society. We believe people can achieve.

And the final ingredient that needs to happen is, is that we need to get the faith-based initiative out of the United States Senate too. It's an initiative that recognizes that, while on the one hand we don't want the church being the state or the state being the church, we shouldn't discriminate against programs that come out of faith- based institutions, all aimed at helping people help themselves.

Listen, some of the best drug treatment programs and alcohol treatment programs are programs that first help change a person's heart, so they can make better choices in their lives. And so I come to this house to herald the programs, to call upon a good law, for starters, out of the Senate, so we can get it to the Senate and to the House, and get to it my desk and give these governors time to plan, to help people.

But I also come here because I recognize that some of the greatest social programs in the country come out of houses of worship, of all faiths, of all faiths. So Pastor Gray (ph), I want to thank you for your leadership. I want to thank you for helping to live the adage, love a neighbor like you would like to be loved yourself. And I appreciate a man who not only preaches, but a man who does.

Thanks for giving us a chance to be here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Mr. President.

What we want to you do is to hear some stories of the real life people.

The first story that we want to you hear is from Spring Davidson (ph) -- Spring. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, my name is Spring Davidson, and in November of 2001, I found myself in a very unfortunate situation.

I became a single mother of three and through this program, I have accomplished a lot. In December, I found myself on welfare. I knew I had to change, but I just didn't know how.

One day, I got a letter from the Dept. of Human Services, inviting me to participate in this program at the Church at Rock Creek.

I can't tell you how much it's meant to me. They have taught me how to figure out what kind of career I want to do in my life, and they have also taught me how to present myself to potential employees. And on top of all of that, they have taught me that God still loves me, no matter what I do.

From the first day I walked in this church, they have treated me like I've been family. They have been there for me -- everyone in this church. The whole staff, the whole church, everybody has been there for me. And been willing to listen to me when I have a problem.

And to me, that means a lot, when you have someone that is really going to listen and say I understand, you know. And then I am currently working here at the Church of Rock Creek, which I love. I am going to school for a medical assisting, and within the month I will be moving into my own apartment.

BUSH: That's great. Congratulations. Where are you going to school?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I go to school at Southeast College of Technology.

BUSH: Great. And you can go into the medical field?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, sir.

BUSH: And, two years ago, would you ever have dreamt of going into the medical field?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.

BUSH: That's great. Children?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I have three children, two boys and a little girl.

BUSH: Good. How old are they?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a 10-year-old, which is in the audience. And a five-year-old and 19-month-old little girl.

BUSH: Great. Congratulations.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Next, Mr. President, I want to you hear from Jeannette Cane (ph) -- Jeannette.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Mr. President.

I want to take this time to thank you for being here today. It is an honor for me to meet you.

My name is Jeannette Latrice Cane (ph). I'm a single mother of three. I'm 30 years old. I'm originally from Los Angeles, California. I moved here to Arkansas, I guess about four years ago, with good intentions, you know, better life for my children, better schooling.

Well, I went to look for work, I looked and I looked and I looked. And the part of Arkansas that I live in, you know, I was just unsuccessful finding employment. So being the good mother that I am, I went and signed up for assistance so that I would be able to take care of my kids.

I guess after two months of signing up, my caseworker called me and says Jeannette, I have some good news for you. I need you to come down as soon as possible and so I can walk you through this.

I said OK and I went on down. She says Jeannette, I got a job for you. I said, do you? She said, yeah. I said, well what am I going to be doing? She said, you're going to be working at the recycling center in Monticello, Arkansas, recycling boxes and newspapers.

And I said, well, that's a man's job. She said, well, you're going to get paid. I said, well, when do I start?

So, it was pretty good. And I did that for about three months, and after completing that part of the program, I got a job at Burger King and I worked there for about 11 months, two months after being employed there they promoted me to assistant manager.

I had a minor setback and I voluntarily entered myself into Southeast Substance Abuse Center in Dermott, Arkansas. I stayed there as a client for about 60 days. After completing my treatment the staff there, they hired me. I've been an employee there for about 16 months now, and I just need to say this: if it wasn't for God, for the CR Substances Abuse Services, and the T-Coalition (ph) Program, I would not to be the professional successful mother that I am today.

I do need to say this to all the mothers out there: I hope that our stories inspire them to work towards independence. Thank you.

BUSH: Good job. Thank you. Very articulate. Tell those kids you love them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love you! Can I say hi to my clients? I told them I would.

Hello! Hi, Miss Lee (ph). I love you!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, the next story that we want you to hear is one of the first participants in our program here at Rock Creek three years ago, Vivian Webb (ph) -- Vivian.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, sir.

I'm a mother of three, and my first experience with the Church of Rock Creek was through their Welfare-to-Work Life Skills Program. Which was unlike any program I had bee through, that I participated with at DHS.

It was truly a godsend. Through this program, I found out that I had the skills, but I so lacked the confidence to go out there and seek the job that I really wanted.

One of the main problems was transportation. Trying to get back and forth to a job. A lot of times, I couldn't hold on to it because transportation just wasn't there.

And through the considerations and concerns of Rock Creek, they furnished me with a car, which enabled me to take my mother -- she was 82 at the time, she is no longer with me -- to the doctor, and to let her see parts of Arkansas that she hadn't been seeing in years.

And also, as I start seeking for other jobs, I kind of got discouraged there because I was putting in applications, filling out resumes, but it wasn't coming like I wanted. But I always could call Pastor Mark and he would always tell me God loves me, have faith, be patient.

And I did get a job, but it wasn't what I wanted, but he said keep going, keep going. You know, be patient. Something is going to come along.

So I'm here today to tell you, no way I would have ever thought that I would be a member of the governor's staff. I was hired by Governor Huckabee.

BUSH: You're doing great.

LIN: Perhaps saving the best story for last there, President Bush in Little Rock, Arkansas today, promoting hiss ideas for welfare reform, listening to some of the personal testimonials of women who have managed to get off of welfare.

President Bush in Clinton's home state there, President Clinton who initiated welfare reform back in 1996, and since then, some 5 million Americans have gotten off of welfare reform.

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