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.

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"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."

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

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

    Bill Clinton must be so happy he's still alive to see this: people who vilify him at every turn suddenly discover that one thing they think they can use against their political opponents (who happen to be his allies) and suddenly, Hallelujah! It was the work of St. Bill and must not ever be altered! LOL!

    Of course, unfortunately for the Republicans, Bill Clinton is still alive and talking and has the attention of plenty of news outlets (though, strangely, not Fox News, the catechist for the true believers) when he sets them straight. Poor old FDR does not have that advantage as the GOP carefully misquotes him in support of their attempts to destroy the New Deal.

    August 9, 2012 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  2. Lynda/Minnesota

    Apparently Mitt Romney has all but given up courting votes from anyone but his own far right wing party members. Strange way to run a NATIONAL campaign, but who am I to agrue with the power and money behind that of the Koch brothers, Karl Rove, and Rush Limbaugh?

    Gingrich, Santorum, Pawlenty (and others) aren't what I'd call independent thinkers ... or independent vote getters for that matter.

    August 9, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Sniffit

    Cleanup on aisle 9.

    August 9, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  4. chris

    Hmmm... this is not what Clinton said the other day. You can pretty much discount anything Santorum, Palin, Bachmann, or any other "notable conservative" says – it's either a twist on cherry-picked facts or total nonsense. True FISCAL conservatives are too busy coming up with solutions to spout garbage.
    L

    August 9, 2012 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  5. bluedogboy

    Santorum is such a snob.

    August 9, 2012 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  6. chris

    Palin was right – Santorum is proving himself to be a knuckle-dragging Neanderthal...

    August 9, 2012 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  7. CommonSense 12

    I guess when your campaign is on it's last leg, Lie, Misrepresent the truth and then send in Rick and Newt to finish screwing everything up even more!!!! I didn't think Romgey's campaign could look worse than McCain's but surprise, surprise!!!! This is too funny.....the end of GOP is near!!!

    August 9, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Critical Thinking

    Here is how I see it. If Obama's changes was to improve the chances of people working, he would have had a major speech on it and touted it for his re-election. Since he did it quietly, it is logical to think that he thought it could hurt his campaign. People have got to start waking up to this president and his true beliefs.

    It's Time : BO MUST GO !

    August 9, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  9. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    Rick appears that he would rather lie for Romney and go to hell, than tell the truth.

    August 9, 2012 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  10. akorage

    Very weak argument. These guys are clueless. President Obama is a product of "HARD WORK" and he knows what it means and how it feels to have your own. In his community there's a saying that goes like this "GOD BLESS THE CHILD THAT HAS HIS OWN". He knows it but I bet Rick and Newtt don't have a clue of such a community paradigm. His community is by defacto very large and all inclusive now but the same kid who now is the man sees what is at play. So silver spoon GOP's, don't educate the 99% on the need to own our OWN FUTURE.There may be some renegades in the programs like in any other (ex: loonies with registered guns), such is the human society and I suppose people in Santorum's capacity should articulate these things. Question is how come these guys come across as "SO EMPTY"? Frustratingly confusing!!!

    August 9, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  11. Patriot Awesome

    Santorum is potentially crazy!

    August 9, 2012 01:39 pm at 1:39 pm |
  12. 1twinswin

    Hmm, I should go out and buy new furniture for my future mansion because I could potentially win the powerball on Saturday. Santorum could potentially come out of the closet, too. Nothing but lies for the ignorant and easily swayed.

    August 9, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  13. simp

    Really? Rick the loser? who in the world would listen to this bitter idiot. He is way to intense for me and he wants to run this country based on his beliefs. I was go glad when he left, to angry for this country!!

    August 9, 2012 01:47 pm at 1:47 pm |
  14. SafeJourney

    Another pants on fire lie for Romney and the GOP. Wont release his tax returns. And they wonder why Romneys favorablilty is droping in the polls

    August 9, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  15. cashmeremafia

    Why are Republicans all of a sudden against state's rights?? Obama is granting waivers on No Child Left behind – provided the states can meet certain educational achievement requirements, and the same thing here – on the condition that they meet certain employment numbers. He's not saying at all they don't have to require people not work. The Repubs will lose big time if they keep persuing this and stop distorting the facts. Both sides do it, but this is more blatant than than what I usually see.

    August 9, 2012 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  16. ptny

    It's no surprise the Congress is so stupid. Republicans can't seem to understand one written word.

    Take Newt...because he can't read, he assumes this bill means something other than what it actually does mean.
    Same thing for Palin and her Death Panels...No words were ever remotely written into the Affordable Care Act, yet again, Liar Palin makes all of this stuff up in attempt too get lesser intelligent Republicans scared.
    They always have to be backed into a corner to finally tell the truth.

    August 9, 2012 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  17. ptny

    never forget...

    “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money” –Rick Santorum, 01/12/2011

    August 9, 2012 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  18. mcskadittle

    so all of the republican big thinker say have incorrectly assessed Obama's position which is allowing states to modify the welfare to work runes only if they make it BETTER

    August 9, 2012 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  19. Norm

    The republicans spend more time imagining the awful things Obama "might" do than actually doing something to help this country and the American people.
    It's hard to figure out their game and what were these people doing when Bush was president?
    Were they all on vacation somewhere?

    August 9, 2012 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. The Other Dale

    Obama COULD "potentially" do that. He could also "potentially" grow wings and be able to fly under his own power. Both are about as likely to happen.

    August 9, 2012 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  21. Pander Bear

    Wow, more lies based upon a falsehood. It's the GOP way!

    August 9, 2012 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  22. Jeettu

    Mitt Romney and his republican friends are once agaim distorting the truth for creating fear and misunderstanding among the voters. This has been the way republicans have fooled America. They know fully well that what they are saying is false, but they keep on repeating it in different ways to make believe that it is true.

    Well, if this is the best they can do, then we do not want them to win in November nd will make sure that we do not vote for them. Also, since Bill Clinton is alive and active, we can ask him as to what the truth is about work for welfare.

    While republicans and Mitt Romney are playing games

    August 9, 2012 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  23. ghostriter

    Newt also said that he didn't trust liberal governors to work this out correctly. SO it's OK to leave it to the states as long as the states have conservative governors.......

    Republicans are now campaigning really hard to be irrelevant and they may just get elected.

    August 9, 2012 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  24. bee

    Go home and take care of your family..You are totally irrelevant, and nothing that you say warrants any reason for a conversation.

    August 9, 2012 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
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