Initial reaction to President Carter's proposal overhaul of the nation's welfare system ranged yesterday all the way from glowing praise to outright denunciation - depending on which politician and interest group was speaking.
Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.), chairman of the Senate Finance Subcommitte on Public Assistance, called the Carter proposal "magnificent and very well crafted' and predicted that Congress would [WORD ILLEGIBLE] it.
But the Finance Committee's ranking Republican, Sen. Carl T. Curtis of Nebraska, called the proposal a "travesty" and said it was "nothing more than a warmed-over version" of what Department of Health, Education and Welfare planners "have been pushing for the last decade - a guaranteed annual income. The working men and women across America want fewer people on welfare, not millions more."
Between the acceptance of Moynihan, who drafted President Nixon's unsuccessful welfare proposal called the family assistance plan eight years ago, and the rejection of Curtis, there seemed to be more cautious praise than criticism of the idea of a guaranteed annual income - a major part of the Nixon plan.
Massachusetts Gov. Michael S. Dukakis and Florida Gov. Reubin Askew said they were pleased with the Carter plan's guarantee of fiscal relief ($162 million for Massachusetts and $10 million for Florida) for their states.
Sen. Bob Packwood of Oregon, a middle-of-the-road Republican on the Finance Committee said Carter's emphasis on work and the creation of public jobs was a positive move to get people off welfare rools.
Rep. James C. Corman (D-Calif.) who will head the House special adhoc welfare committee set up by House Speaker Thomas (Tip) O'Neill Jr. (D-Mass.) to hold hearings on the proposals, said, "On the whole I'm more optimistic than negative" that the program will pass.
He predicted that it would not be smooth sailing, however. "It it just the nature of the beast we're dealing with. There are so many conflicting objectives."
At a press conference in Plains, Ga., yesterday, Carter urged Congress to scrap the current welfare system and provide public jobs for those who can't find private employment, provide supplemental payments for those who work but whose incomes are inadequate to support families and guarantee an income for those not expected to work - the blind, disabled, aged and single parents with children under the age of 6.
He estimated his program would cost $30.7 billion.
Some 1.4 million and 300,000 part-time public service jobs would be created - for public safety, child care, recreation programs and cleaning up neighborhoods - at federal minimum wage, with some additional supplementation.
Welfare rights advocate Leonard Lesser of the Center for Community Change said the jobs created should pay the prevailing wage. "Why should a welfare mother accept a day-care job at minimum wage when someone else already has a similar job for $3 and hour?" he asked. Public employee officials contend welfare workers on these jobs might eliminate jobs for regular employees.
But Secretary of Labour Ray Marshall said the new jobs will be created to fill existing needs not now covered.
Carter's plan to require a "principal wage earner" in a two-parent family to take an outside job is expected to draw criticism from some women's groups. Members of the Women's Lobby, for example, have pointed out that "principal wage earner" will automatically be constructed to be men by most program planners and could shut out low-income women from the newly created jobs.
Packwood predicted yesterday it will wind up closer to $40 billion a year before hearings are over.
Carter, however, predicted yesterday that 42 per cent of the current recipients - most of whom are women - of aid to families with dependent children could be moved into those jobs.
Another major area of controversy will be over the cost of the plan. The estimated unitial cost is $30.7 billion - some $2.8 billion more than the current system ' but congressional welfare analysts and members of Congress are already predicting it will be much higher when all aspects are studied.