Speaking at a manufacturing company in suburban Chicago today, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney accused President Obama of trying to “reverse the accomplishment” of President Bill Clinton’s welfare reform efforts of the 1990s, which he called “one of the greatest bipartisan successes we’ve seen.” Romney’s attack during his campaign event comes as his campaign has begun running TV ads accusing President Obama of trying to undo the Clinton-era welfare reforms requiring recipients of welfare programs to go to work.
The only problem with Romney’s claim? It isn’t really true.
The charge is based on a July 12 memo issued by the Department of Health and Human Services, in which HHS said it would consider approving waivers for states seeking more flexibility in implementing welfare reform, officially known as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or TANF.
The memo prompted outrage from many congressional Republicans, who have charged the Obama administration is changing a requirement of a law passed by Congress in an executive branch power grab.
But does the memo do what the Romney campaign charges — that it guts welfare reform, gets rid of work requirements entirely, and would “just send you your welfare check”?
Not exactly. The memo states, for instance, that HHS “will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF.”
In other words, a state would have to offer an alternative program similar to the work requirements first put into place by the 1990s welfare reform law in order to receive the waiver.
Ironically, while Mitt Romney and his campaign are attacking President Obama because his Department of Health and Human Services said it would consider approving waivers for states seeking more flexibility in implementing welfare reform, in 2005 Romney himself signed a letter during his time as Governor of Massachusetts that pressed Congress to give states more flexibility to determine who should qualify for welfare.
As I’ve said before, Mitt Romney will say anything to win this election, because he truly has no moral core.