Romney set to assail Obama for welfare changes
August 7th, 2012
05:00 AM ET
6 years ago

Romney set to assail Obama for welfare changes

(CNN) – Changes to welfare pushed by President Barack Obama's administration are providing his Republican challenger Mitt Romney with material for a new round of attacks, including a television ad released Tuesday.

The changes, which would allow states greater flexibility in administering their welfare-to-work programs, came in a directive issued by the Department of Health and Human Services in mid-July. At the time, some Republicans claimed the new rules amounted to a "gutting" of work requirements for welfare recipients, which were a central element of the bipartisan welfare reform law signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

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In Tuesday's ad from the Romney campaign, an announcer points to Clinton's achievement, and claims Obama's directive would "gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements."

"Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check," the announcer continues. "And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare."

Romney campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said the welfare ad was one piece in a larger push to highlight the Obama administration's changes to ways states administer welfare.

"Middle-class Americans are working harder and harder to make ends meet," Saul wrote. "Under President Obama, they have fewer jobs and less take-home pay. And now, President Obama wants to take their hard-earned tax dollars and give it to welfare recipients without work requirements."

Romney, she wrote, "would restore the work requirement in the welfare law so that recipients know the dignity of work instead of the dependency of a handout."

The Obama administration directive, issued July 12, allows individual states to experiment with changes to their welfare-to-work programs, which are federally funded. The intent, according to the directive, is to "challenge states to engage in a new round of innovation that seeks to find more effective mechanisms for helping families succeed in employment."

The welfare-to-work program affected by the directive – the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) – was created by the welfare reform law signed by Clinton in 1996. That measure was considered a win for conservatives, who long pushed for a provision that required work training for Americans receiving government assistance.

The Obama administration argues the potential changes would help people move quickly from welfare rolls to paying jobs by reducing burdensome requirements, including excessive paperwork. Jay Carney, the White House Press Secretary, said Tuesday that any suggestion Obama was "gutting" welfare-to-work programs was false.

"Let me say that this advertisement is categorically false and it is blatantly dishonest," Carney said. "This administration's policy will strengthen the program by giving states the opportunity to employ more effective ways."

He called Republican criticism of the changes "outrageous," pointing to past support from Republican governors – including Romney – for waivers to the federal requirements.

"The ad is particularly outrageous as Governor Romney himself with 28 other Republican governors supported policies that would have eliminated the time limits in the welfare reform law and allowed people to stay on welfare forever. Those are not standards the president supports," Carney said.

In 2005, Romney signed a letter along with 29 other state governors to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, calling for greater state flexibility in managing their TANF programs.

"Increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work," the letter read.

In a memo Tuesday, Romney's campaign Policy Director Lanhee Chen wrote that Romney has remained consistent in supporting work requirements for welfare recipients.

"Because Massachusetts had implemented reforms of its own shortly before the federal reforms of 1996, it was actually exempt from many of the federal requirements when Romney took office as governor," Chen wrote. "But nevertheless, facing an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature in one of the most liberal states in the country, Romney vetoed efforts to weaken work requirements and he pressed repeatedly to instead strengthen them and bring them in line with federal standards."

Obama's re-election campaign responded to the ad in a statement Tuesday, accusing Romney of "not telling the truth."

"The truth is that the President is giving states additional flexibility only if they move more people from welfare to work – not fewer. As Governor, Romney asked for even greater flexibility to waive the central part of the law by letting people receive benefits for an indefinite period and as HHS has said, his waiver request wouldn't be approved today because it weakened the law too much. By falsely attacking a policy that both he and his Republican allies have supported for years, Romney is once again flip flopping on a position he took in Massachusetts, and demonstrating that he lacks the core strength and principles the nation needs in a President," Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement.

Filed under: Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. livingston

    So now giving the states more control over their welfare programs is a bad thing?

    August 7, 2012 08:03 am at 8:03 am |
  2. Sandy

    Wow. Why doesn't the press call Romney and his campaign out for the lies! I don't get why the media is not doing their job!

    August 7, 2012 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
  3. Independent

    Is there any issue that Romney hasn't been on both sides of?

    August 7, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  4. NCwriter

    A thought – if I work and you receive welfare without working, then aren't you dependent on me? So if I quit, I'm morally deficient because I'm not just hurting myself and my family, I'm hurting you too.

    Does that make me a slave to you?

    August 7, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  5. trex

    .......How DARE Grandma want 3 MEALS ... a day?............While Mr Haliburton only has 14 villas in th South of France................................

    August 7, 2012 08:34 am at 8:34 am |
  6. judy

    The welfare to work program is good, but it should not be imposed at the mothers with newborns or with todlers who need to be nurtured by them. Right now we are living in a society where childdren are being raised by childcare facilities so some of these children growup without the bonding that is needed between parents and their kids. when kids growup without that bonding. some may make it, but others because of that fact dont feel loved and feel worthless in their parent's eyes so they search for that bonding in the wrong places and end up drug addicts or commiting all kinds of crimes, etc, so that they can get their parent's attention or sometimes that makes them grow into a person full of hatred and recentment. Welfare should be for everyone and welfare to work is a fantastic idea for a family that has both parents, but not for single moms with babies until they are able to enter into school.

    August 7, 2012 08:39 am at 8:39 am |
  7. Durundal

    So exactly how does giving states more autonomy on dealing with welfare (I thought that was the whole conservitard thing about decentralizing power) amount to free cash and no work? At what point is there not a blatant fabrication ala 'Death Panels'?

    August 7, 2012 08:42 am at 8:42 am |
  8. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    More G.O.P. lies!

    August 7, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  9. Wake up people

    Nothing but a bunch of lies as usual. Where are the taxes Willard? Do you think all Americans are stupid?

    OBAMA 2012!

    August 7, 2012 08:53 am at 8:53 am |
  10. Malory Archer

    mittens & crew lie about everything else. Why do they think anyone with more than two active brain cells is going to believe them about this?

    August 7, 2012 08:58 am at 8:58 am |
  11. Indy

    So Obama wants to move forward and improve the welfare program to make it easier for people to gain employment and Romney wants everything to stay the same,something like his tax policy stance where he still believes that tax breaks for the uber wealthy will someday have jobs falling out of the sky,even though there is 100% proof that tax breaks for the wealthy do not create jobs. Romney is stuck in the old world and has lost touch with reality since he has been on a seven year unemployed venture of saying the opposite of whatever Obama says every single day of his life.

    August 7, 2012 09:02 am at 9:02 am |
  12. Betty

    "In 2005, Romney signed a letter along with 29 other state governors to then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, calling for greater state flexibility in managing their TANF programs."

    Thats the Romney we know, er dont know? The man flips so much, who can tell?

    August 7, 2012 09:07 am at 9:07 am |
  13. v_mag

    News Flash! Mitt Romney is on welfare!

    It's true! If, as everyone now suspects, Mittler didn't pay any taxes (or, very little taxes), that means that his tax burden was shouldered by the middle class. Therefore, Rob-money is on welfare, courtesy of the American taxpayer. We are subsidizing him and the other 1%ers who are working the massive loopholes in the tax code provided for them by OUR Congress. Make you mad? It does me!

    August 7, 2012 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  14. pablo

    If you're getting a govt handout then I see no reason why you should NOT be required to find a job. TANF is meant to be a helping hand in time of need, not a lifestyle. We have the same issues with unemployment compensation benefits. There is a work search requirement and a tme limit for getting support. I would advocate for a shorter time limit for unemployment. 99 weeks (nearly 2 yrs) is too long. There is no incentive to find a job, retrain or even relocate until the benefits run out. But there is also a disturbing trend. After people run out of unemployment, they apply for disability so they continue to get a free govt check. This needs to stop.

    August 7, 2012 09:21 am at 9:21 am |
  15. Rupublican supporter of President Obama

    What does Willard know about welfare? Did he speak to anyone in person about their struggles?

    August 7, 2012 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  16. Brooke

    This is Bull and they know this............welfare has been going on for years. In 2007 alot of people was losing their jobs and did not have food to eat. What else could they do. Most of them that are recieving asst., are the working poor that needs a helping hand to feed their children. If it was up to the GOP no one eats...........or kill each other for bread.....

    August 7, 2012 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  17. Boisepoet

    So Obama gives more power to the states to enact processes under this program (one of the Republicans' favorite items; states' rights!), and Romney says Obama wants to get rid of work requirements. This guy is completely slimy.

    August 7, 2012 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  18. No you di'int

    So the GOP is loudly in favor of states' rights to decide policy rather than the federal government - unless it's a Democrat in the White House proposing to give them that flexibility, then suddenly they're raging against it?

    Inconsistency? No, just the overriding consistency: "Whatever it is, I'm against it!" when it comes from President Obama.

    August 7, 2012 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  19. Af

    How hypocrit are the romney campaign supporters, someone who lost his/her job who ask for assistance is not walefare. My cousin lost her job in Jnuary 2010, she went to a nursing school for 2 years. This July 2012 she graduated as a register Nurse, grace of the unemploiment Benefit. This UB is not walefare, Romney is to Rich to be President at this time. he doesn't know what the middle class is going throught.

    August 7, 2012 09:51 am at 9:51 am |
  20. myron8160

    What prez do you want obama who will help the needy or ronmey who will give to the GREEDY

    August 7, 2012 09:52 am at 9:52 am |
  21. Mr. Moderate

    So we constantly hear Republicans say the states need greater flexibility in crafting programs that work for those states (isn't that at the heart of Ryan's plans?). But now that Obama is for it, they're against it. Typical.....

    August 7, 2012 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  22. Cincinnati girl

    So...Romney asked for greater flexibility to manage how the state executed their welfare program while he was governor and now he's looking to chastise the POTUS for allowing states to have more control over how the welfare program is executed in their state. Does Mitt Romney have selective memory or what!

    August 7, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |

    Mitt's been unemployed for years! The American tax payers pay welfare to the mega rich with their write offs! WAKE UP PEOPLE! The RICH want even more welfare!

    August 7, 2012 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  24. Governor 47th In Job Creation (Excluding Off-shored to China and India)

    Let me fix that for Willard. Under the Romney plan, if you're a millionaire, you wouldn't have to pay nearly as much in taxes while the middle class and seniors get squeezed to death. Meanwhile our nation's revenues are at their lowest point in decades thanks in large part to Willard and his tax-dodging unpatriotic buddies and the GOTP cult that kisses the ring and rear of the idiot named Grover.
    Fortunately, we won't have to deal with a President Romney here; he'll run the moon colony called Amercia with Newty.

    August 7, 2012 10:10 am at 10:10 am |
  25. Khaleeshi

    Romney Hood stikes again – taking from the poor and middle class to give to the wealthy 1%. I can't understand why anyone who is poor or middle class want to give up so much for the wealthy – it's not like they're going to create jobs or anything.

    August 7, 2012 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
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