Obama Admin. to Issue Waivers From Federal Work Requirement in Welfare Program

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In 2006, Bill Clinton wrote this in a New York Times op-ed:

On Aug. 22, 1996, after vetoing two earlier versions, I signed welfare reform into law. At the time, I was widely criticized by liberals who thought the work requirements too harsh and conservatives who thought the work incentives too generous. Three members of my administration ultimately resigned in protest. Thankfully, a majority of both Democrats and Republicans voted for the bill because they thought we shouldn’t be satisfied with a system that had led to intergenerational dependency.

The last 10 years have shown that we did in fact end welfare as we knew it, creating a new beginning for millions of Americans.

In the past decade, welfare rolls have dropped substantially, from 12.2 million in 1996 to 4.5 million today. At the same time, caseloads declined by 54 percent. Sixty percent of mothers who left welfare found work, far surpassing predictions of experts. Through the Welfare to Work Partnership, which my administration started to speed the transition to employment, more than 20,000 businesses hired 1.1 million former welfare recipients. Welfare reform has proved a great success, and I am grateful to the Democrats and Republicans who had the courage to work together to take bold action.
[…]
The 1996 Welfare Act shows us how much we can achieve when both parties bring their best ideas to the negotiating table and focus on doing what is best for the country.

People were getting off welfare and getting back to work. Great news… unless you feed off dependency in order to stay in power.

Fast forward to this week:

The Department and Health and Human Services announced the agency will issue waivers for the federal work requirement of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program — considered a central facet of welfare reform in 1996 — Thursday.

The “Information Memorandum” states that the agency will be issuing waivers for TANF’s work participation requirements for parents and caretakers as a way to find new approaches to better employment outcomes.

“While the TANF work participation requirements are contained in section 407, section 402(a)(1)(A)(iii) requires that the state plan ‘[e]nsure that parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities in accordance with section 407,’” the memo, signed by HHS Director of the Office of Family Assistance, Earl Johnson, explained. “Thus, HHS has authority to waive compliance with this 402 requirement and authorize a state to test approaches and methods other than those set forth in section 407, including definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures, and the calculation of participation rates.”

“New approaches to better employment outcomes”? The first thing that comes to mind to accomplish that is to vote this bunch out in November.

Of course, in defense of Obama, having a federal work requirement after he and the rest of the Dems have trashed the economy could be considered cruel and unusual punishment. It’s like having a “go find a gallon of water” requirement for people being released into the Sahara Desert.

Members of Congress are pointing out that the administration can’t legally do what they’re doing:

The American Thinker reported Friday that House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp and the Ranking Member on the Senate Finance Committee Orrin Hatch sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius Thursday expressing “deep concern” about the memo and demanding a legal reasoning behind the guidance by Monday.

“Simply put, if Congress had intended to allow waivers of TANF work requirements, it would have said so in the statute,” the pair wrote. “Instead, Congress did the exact opposite and explicitly prohibited waivers to section 407 work requirements among other sections of the Social Security Act.”

Legal reasoning? Since when does Obama need to legally justify his decrees?

Romney responded:

“President Obama now wants to strip the established work requirements from welfare,” Romney said. “The success of bipartisan welfare reform, passed under President Clinton, has rested on the obligation of work. The president’s action is completely misdirected. Work is a dignified endeavor, and the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life.”

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About Doug Powers

Doug Powers is a writer, editor and commentator covering news of the day from a conservative viewpoint with an occasional shot of irreverence and a blast of snark. Townhall Media editor. MichelleMalkin.com alum. Bowling novice.