"It takes time to develop these innovative approaches," he said. "It
can't be done at the drop of a hat."
He and his opponent Rep. Bob Wise, D-W.Va., are more alike than
different on this issue.
Wise voted with Republicans and a majority of Democrats for the 1996
"I voted for it because I thought the welfare system as it
existed then was broken and we simply had to replace it," Wise said.
He voted against earlier versions of the bill that would have cut
people off of Medicaid when they lost their welfare benefits. Wise
has also consistently voted against some of the harshest cuts pushed by
Republicans and some Democrats, including efforts to cut food stamps,
often to children.
Although he does not regret his welfare vote, he does not like
the way some of the changes have been carried out, such as the children
who have been dropped from Medicaid.
In his economic plan, Wise suggests spending welfare savings on
job training, child care and transportation to help people get jobs and
keep them, the same things Underwood supports.
Both candidates also say they support penalties for parents who are
late with child support, the current 60-month lifetime limit on
welfare benefits and work requirements for welfare checks,
according to the Project Vote-Smart survey.
Both say welfare recipients should be allowed to save money for
education, starting a business or buying a home while receiving benefits
and the state should give welfare money to faith-based institutions
to help people.
Project Vote Smart lists Underwood as opposed to such savings
plans and to giving funds to faith-based institutions, but that is an
error, Underwood said.
Novelist Denise Giardina, Mountain Party candidate for governor ,also
two candidates. Unlike them, she also wants to spend some of the
welfare savings to create an earned income tax credit modeled after
the federal version.
A tax break at 10 percent of the federal tax credit for low-income
families would return $19 million to the state's poorest workers,
according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Wise says no, because he would not want to risk paying for a tax credit
with welfare money that Congress might cut in a couple of years.
Underwood says no and offers his tax plan instead. Under his
plan, families making less than $16,000 a year wouldn't owe any taxes, he
refundable tax credit would, however.
The difference between Wise and Underwood, Wise said, is that
Underwood has no plan for spending the welfare surplus. Wise
criticizes Underwood for waiting until the election was near to
fund transportation and job training community projects.
"My sense is, whoever is coming through the door with a proposal is
getting funded," he said. "There are a number of worthwhile projects out
there, but the money ought to be distributed according to a comprehensive
In addition, Wise says he supports tax credits for businesses that
provide child care for employees and for businesses who hire
welfare recipients. Underwood does not.
Libertarian candidate Bob Myers blames government spending for the
to cut spending, he said.
It might take 20 years, he said, but he would eventually get rid of
To contact staff writer Dawn Miller, use e-mail or call 348-5117.