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U.S. President Bill Clinton gestures while addressing the National Governors? Association in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 2, 1993.  (AP Photo/Marcy Nighswander)

Bill Clinton's welfare reforms turn 20: Will criticism hurt Hillary's chances?

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Pres. Clinton Signing Welfare Reform (1996)

WATCH: President Bill Clinton signs welfare reform bill in 1996

One of the nation's most divisive programs turns 20 today: the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, the biggest overhaul to the welfare program since it was established.

Then-President Bill Clinton claimed it would "end welfare as we know it."  The original welfare system, put into place under then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1935, was accused of giving people an incentive not to get a job.

In 1996, Bill Clinton delivered on a campaign promise to overhaul the program, requiring at least 30 hours of work to get most benefits. And it worked: the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said it increased employment among unmarried mothers from 63 percent to 76 percent. And the overall poverty rate dropped, USA Today reports.

Countless welfare recipients who are trying to better themselves and their families are left in a dead end.
Ohio governor John Kasich

But critics claim the bill never helped people who were struggling to find work in the first place. The National Poverty Center at the University of Michigan found in 2011 that the number of families living on less than $2 per person per day more than doubled since 1996. 

Hillary Clinton is still facing criticism for being associated with her husband's reforms.

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