Santorum says Obama 'potentially' could gut Clinton's 'signature achievement'
August 9th, 2012
12:31 PM ET
2 years ago

Santorum says Obama 'potentially' could gut Clinton's 'signature achievement'

(CNN) - Republican attacks against the Obama administration's changes to the way states administer welfare programs continued Thursday, though leading surrogates for Mitt Romney seemed less certain than when the attacks began that the changes would definitively end welfare's work requirements.

Speaking on a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum would only say that the changes would "potentially" gut the work requirements, a charge President Barack Obama's administration denies.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

"This president obviously is orienting his administration to weaken this work requirement and potentially gut this work requirement," Santorum said.

Santorum pointed to what he said was a "pattern" by Obama of increasing "government dependency," saying "the idea that they are going to strengthen this work requirement is absurd." He said that pattern led him to believe work requirements in welfare would be altered by potential Obama administration changes.

Another former contender for the 2012 GOP nomination – former House Speaker Newt Gingrich – similarly toned down his remarks on Obama's welfare changes Wednesday, saying on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" that there was "no proof today" that the welfare changes would result in a gutting of work requirements.

"We have no proof today, but I would say to you under Obama's ideology it is absolutely true that he would be comfortable sending a lot of people checks for doing nothing," Gingrich said.

When Republican attacks on the welfare changes began on Tuesday, the charge against Obama was dire – a television spot from Romney's campaign and the RNC said "President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements."

Representatives for Obama pushed back on the charge, saying it misconstrued the changes enacted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

"The HHS guidelines have made clear that no waivers would be granted unless the states could demonstrate that they will increase by 20% the number of individuals who are moved from welfare to work," White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.

Romney himself showed no signs of backing away from the charge that Obama's changes were "gutting" welfare work requirements on Thursday, saying on the Bill Bennett Morning Show Obama was "taking out the work requirement in welfare."

"The impact for the poor in this country, and for the future of this country, is severe," Romney said. "I think the American people are very disturbed by a policy of removing work from welfare."

The directive in question allows individual states–which have received a waiver from the Health and Human Services Department–to experiment with changes to their federally-funded welfare-to-work programs.

The program affected by the directive - the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - was created by the bipartisan welfare reform law signed by former President Bill 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.

On Thursday, Santorum called the law Clinton's "signature achievement," noting he was involved with the measure's passage as a senator from Pennsylvania.

"We did it, as you ultimately see, in a very bipartisan way," Santorum said. "We got, I think, seventy votes in the Senate. And of course, Bill Clinton, after opposing it, came around to understanding that this was what's best for America. Best for people. Relying on themselves for work."

"All of those things aren't harsh, they're not mean, they're the kind of things necessary to have people be able to provide for themselves," Santorum added.

Romney said on the Bill Bennett show Obama was "not a Bill Clinton Democrat," and slammed the president for "undoing Bill Clinton's signature law."

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.


Filed under: 2012 • Mitt Romney • President Obama • Rick Santorum
soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. Jeff R.

    Add this to the push for food stamps and we've got one heckuva dependent (entitled?) country.

    August 9, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  2. Brian Dodge

    "Santorum says Obama 'potentially' could gut Clinton's 'signature achievement'"

    Clinton's signature achievement was balancing the budget, and running a surplus. Bush and the Republican "tax cuts create jobs" fairy tale 'actually' gutted that – and created a hole so deep that we may never get out – which is why I'm voting for Romney and whatever TeaPartywacko he's forced to choose for running mate.

    It will be really amusing to watch THEM try to tax cut their way out of the coming economic, environmental, and political collapse.

    August 9, 2012 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  3. ghostriter

    Speaking on a conference call organized by the Republican National Committee, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum would only say that the changes would "potentially" gut the work requirements. "We have no proof today, but I would say to you under Obama's ideology it is absolutely true that he would be comfortable sending a lot of people checks for doing nothing," Gingrich said.

    As if this wasn't enough proof of republicans just not paying much attention. At least the Obama attack ads have some semblance of truth. Not only does this lack that, it was supported by republicans. Now, the governors that request it are being silient. But not about their reasons to actually follow thru with the waivers.

    Welcome to another round of "We want it, just not from that guy". Part of our ongoing series, "We can't let this guy get credit for anything good".

    August 9, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  4. Patriot Awesome

    They're going to have to back off on this one. Their lying is becoming a bigger story than the lie.

    August 9, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  5. California Gary

    What a bunch of nonsense........this is the ultimate "strawman" set up if ever there was one. It won't work Romney......we still want to know what you are hiding in your tax returns.

    August 9, 2012 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  6. Mikey

    This is another blatant lie by the GOP. It's sad, but they seem to have no ethics or conscience when it comes to telling the truth. Romney is the biggest liar to represent a major party in modern presidential history. Santorum is not much better, having been caught in numerous bald-faced lies. Since he pretends to be such a Christian, I would expct better.

    August 9, 2012 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  7. Arch

    He is right that Clinton was a moderate Democrat. Obama is a idealogical liberal President unwilling to compromise and if he does not get his way he goes around Congress. Obama acted moderate in 2007/2008 but he has shown his true colors the last 3.5 years and that is he prefers the European models to the US.

    August 9, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    If I can recall, Bill was under a lot of public pressure because of Monica. Who knows what kind of blackmailing was going on behind the scenes...he ultimately signed the bill under duress. That being the case, the bill is not even lawful in the first place...we should call on congress to repeal the bill!!!!!

    August 9, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  9. Dan

    "The HHS guidelines have made clear that no waivers would be granted unless the states could demonstrate that they will increase by 20% the number of individuals who are moved from welfare to work."

    So it can only increase the number of people on welfare who work.

    They're going to keep spewing what has been called by unbiased sources a complete and total lie.

    So in other words, business as usual for the GOP. And continues to make those who support them look like fools.

    August 9, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  10. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    when things are not going so smoothly for the GOP they always go after the "welfare card" because they know their base HATES the dole and thinks anyone on it is lazy, getting free handouts, and is also a minority. (although a majority of food stamp recievers are WHITE but why let facts get in the way of a good hate fest) and of course Newt and Ricky, who wants to give less aid to the "blah" people are the ones he calls to bring this card back out. Same ol, same ol!

    August 9, 2012 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  11. Thomas

    Bill Clinton can speak for himself , he's not dead !

    Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and his buddy Newt Gingrich might want to ask Mr.Clinton what he thinks .
    Newt was so supportive in the past .

    I miss seeing Santorum wearing those cute sweaters .

    August 9, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  12. bobden

    Is it that Romney and his campaign are not capable of saying anything that is true?

    August 9, 2012 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  13. george of the jungle

    romney aid touths romney health care in Mass. What a mess that created. First time they told the truth. Mittens is like a snake oil salesman. Tell us about your tax returns mitt Oh how wabout the money in the over seas accounts. ?? Forward. 2012

    August 9, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  14. Rupublican supporter of President Obama

    Potentially????

    Potentially???

    Potentially... he will be much better than any GOP in office because he exhibits better leadership qualities and maturity.

    August 9, 2012 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  15. Sean74cnn

    The non-hypocritical Republicans are backing off, because they've realized that 29 state governors signed a letter requesting the exact change being made back in 2005. Mitt Romney was one of those Governors.

    The debates will definitely be interesting. Obama is taking the country in a direction championed by Romney while he was Governor of Massachusetts which Romney now totally opposes. Romney is going to go down in flames as the flip-flopper to end all flip-floppers.

    August 9, 2012 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  16. labman57

    Santorum could, potentially, someday tell the truth.

    August 9, 2012 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  17. Nelson Colorado Springs Co.

    More talking points. Republican attacks against the Obama administration's changes to the way states administer welfare programs if they would do a fact check, Romney did offered the same thing in Mass.

    August 9, 2012 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  18. artraveler

    The president should have HHS recind the letters from the REPUBLICAN state governors asking for a waiver for alternative ways to get people to work and tell them that there seems to be an issue in THEIR party in which presidential politics overrides state's rights and maybe they need to figure out what they stand for and if they still want a waiver, come back with a 2nd request signed off by Mittens and whoever they think is an opinion-maker this hou and maybe a FAUX celebrityr!

    How do you tell a Republican is lying?-their lips are moving!

    August 9, 2012 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  19. Max

    Whr RIck???

    Rick? Rick? who...RICK??? SANTO? Who Rick...?he's so WEIRD !!!!

    August 9, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  20. Paul Williamson

    This idiot cannot even read. The HHS guidelines have made clear that no waivers would be granted unless the states could demonstrate that they will increase by 20% the number of individuals who are moved from welfare to work. That says INCREASE, not eliminate. Both Romney and Santorum make this stuff up; who wants a liar and a tax cheat for a President?

    August 9, 2012 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  21. Mike

    Every fact check outlet has given this claim the biggest lie of the year. Another reason why Romney's favorability rating is going down. Lying and hiding information is not the way.

    August 9, 2012 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  22. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I hope Rick is getting a lot of money for repeating lies that have been debunked. Is there a religious man in the GOP, who is not a liar?

    August 9, 2012 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  23. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    People who know are truth, and know you are lying, are just plain 'snobs' aren't they Ricky?

    August 9, 2012 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  24. mamacho

    If we keep repeating it, it will become true. Gotta love that!

    August 9, 2012 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  25. M-W-T

    MITT ROMNEY-–THE WORST REPUBLICAN IN THE COUNTRY FOR PRESIDENT-– by R. Santorum

    4 more for 44

    August 9, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
1 2 3