Sununu stands by debunked welfare criticism of Obama
August 22nd, 2012
08:46 PM ET
2 years ago

Sununu stands by debunked welfare criticism of Obama

(CNN) - John Sununu, a high-profile surrogate for Mitt Romney, on Wednesday stood by the criticism of President Barack Obama in Romney campaign television advertisements that make a claim CNN and others have found to be false.

"But on July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements," said one ad, using language similar to a spot released Wednesday morning. "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."

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Sununu, who is a former governor of New Hampshire, argued on CNN's "The Situation Room" that the Obama administration weakened work rules related to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in a July 12 Health and Human Services memorandum.

Sununu said the memorandum goes "well beyond" a waiver request from several governors related to the law. Among the governors who have recently requested waivers are two Republicans.

Governors can request, and may be granted, waivers from certain aspects of the law, and the memo in question said the "Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is interested in more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs that offer opportunities for earnings and advancement that will allow participants to avoid dependence on government benefits." Requests must be accompanied by an "evaluation plan," a timetable, budget, public input, and "a set of performance measures that states will track to monitor ongoing performance and outcomes throughout the length of the demonstration project."

Romney and Republicans have seized on the memo. Last week, Romney told reporters that the president has allowed for "a removal of the work requirement in certain cases." Romney's running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, charged in an interview Tuesday that Obama "is weakening the work requirements which where I come from in Wisconsin, it was a smashing success."

Sununu argued that the Obama administration's memo included "broad-enough language that allows it to include aspects that are not employer training, real training or employer related.

"And what you want to avoid is language that encourages or permits people to do those soft self-studies that a lot of people have been talking about that people ought to be able to do, to look for work on the Internet instead of going to an employer," he told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.

Blitzer read from the governors' requests and the HHS memo, and told Sununu,"We've done the research. Not only us, but every major fact-checker has done the research and the president wants to make sure that in this particular case, that work requirement is maintained."

"It's not just CNN, it's every major fact-checking organization has said he has not gutted, has not gutted by any means, the work requirements," Blitzer said.

A CNN fact-check of the ad's claim aired earlier in the program and rated it false. PolitiFact.com categorized it as "Pants on Fire!" and FactCheck.org wrote, "A Mitt Romney TV ad claims the Obama administration has adopted 'a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.' The plan does neither of those things."

Pressed about the fact check reports in an interview Wednesday, Romney himself offered a defense and essentially faulted the outlets for showing bias, even though his campaign has used analyses by some of the groups, like FactCheck.org, to bolster its own arguments.

"Fact-checkers on both sides of the aisle will look in the way they think is most consistent with their own views," Romney told the Des Moines Register in Iowa, before repeating the claim. "It's very clear that others who have looked at the same issue feel that the president violates the provision of the act which requires work in welfare, defines what work is. He guts that, he ends that requirement for those that seek that welfare."

The president also answered a question on the subject in a Monday news conference, saying, "Everybody who's looked at this says what Governor Romney is saying is absolutely wrong."

"In fact what's happened was that my administration, responding to the requests of five governors, including two Republican governors, agreed to approve giving them, those states, some flexibility in how they manage their welfare rolls as long as it produced 20 percent increases in the number of people who are getting work," he said. "So in other words, we would potentially give states more flexibility to put more people back to work, not to take them off the work requirement under welfare."

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Filed under: 2012 • John Sununu • Medicare • Mitt Romney • President Obama • TV-The Situation Room
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. soren

    Debunked by whom? Obama is giving out waivers so people don't have to work to get welfare benefits... this is indisputable.

    August 22, 2012 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  2. mcskadittle

    i really don't understand there strategy, i guess they think there fellow republicans are dumb to find out the truth

    August 22, 2012 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  3. DRAKE MALLARD

    Romney has a point on welfare

    As governor, Mitt Romney used same work requirement waiver he now claims will gut welfare reform. Romney didn't request the waivers (his Republican predecessor did), but he chose to continue them. And despite what he's saying now, these were waivers to the exact same legislative provisions the new Obama administration

    August 22, 2012 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  4. dbo

    He is one angry geezer, out there representing the GOP. Just goes to show how out of touch they are. It's not sticking now go to bed!

    August 22, 2012 09:15 pm at 9:15 pm |
  5. LexDTruth22

    "Fact-checkers on both sides of the aisle will look in the way they think is most consistent with their own views," Romney told the Des Moines Register in Iowa, before repeating the claim. "It's very clear that others who have looked at the same issue feel that the president violates the provision of the act which requires work in welfare, defines what work is. He guts that, he ends that requirement for those that seek that welfare." This man wants my vote but yet lies to pander to those on the extreme right who would rather believe anything negative about Obama than form their own opinion based on THE FACTS...

    August 22, 2012 09:16 pm at 9:16 pm |
  6. GOP = Greed Over People

    Congrats CNN for finally pointing out that Shamu is flat out lying!

    It is fine to give him face time but also point out his a verified by multiple sources.

    August 22, 2012 09:21 pm at 9:21 pm |
  7. Indy

    "Sununu" means LIAR in five different languages and yes english is one of those languages

    August 22, 2012 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  8. dreucalypt

    This isn't just a racist dogwhistle by the Republicans. They're positively howling at the moon.

    August 22, 2012 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  9. Yankee Doodle Dandy 1776

    The Obama Administration memo clearly states that they are waiving the requirements in Section 407 of the Welfare legislation in question. Section 407 of the legislation outlines the work requirements for state to receive federal welfare money.

    I'm not sure if the "Fact Checkers" can read, but I can read. When a document says it is waiving a requirement, it means exactly that.

    August 22, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  10. Pete

    Washed up exgovernor Sununu,shut your fat arrogent trap,we saw how well informed you were on CNN last week.I honestly think you're sickening because your intelligence isn't that great and the more you talked the more you made an ass out your self,you're just a pathedic fat old man,go home ,we don't care what you think!!

    August 22, 2012 09:39 pm at 9:39 pm |
  11. Bootstomper

    Republicans old and beat and not very bright.

    August 22, 2012 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  12. George

    Mitt Romney,Paul Ryan,John Sununu,Mike Hucklebee,Rick Perry,Rick Santorum,Herman Cain & Rush Limbaugh all have two things in common....they are all dangerously narrow minded and they are all pathological liars!!!!!!!

    August 22, 2012 09:42 pm at 9:42 pm |
  13. Randy, San Francisco

    This attack dog politician has no credibliity.

    August 22, 2012 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  14. Pete

    Sununu remember Romney asked for waivers while governor as you probibly did,good luck in your lies they're as good as Romneys but not as convincing or factual!!!

    August 22, 2012 09:44 pm at 9:44 pm |
  15. ron

    Dear Willard, maybe you can have folks out representing you who have not almost gone to jail?? THe only reason that sununu clown is not in jail is because he opted to run away from the white house with his tail between his legs. Now, he thinks everyone has forgotten who he is! LOL Get better people, Willard....

    August 22, 2012 09:45 pm at 9:45 pm |
  16. They ought to change from the elephant to the hippo...

    Oh come on now... Don't you think the firefighters are busy enough out west? That don't have time to come put out all the Republican pants that are bursting into flame...

    August 22, 2012 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  17. edgyone

    I read the entire memo. The part that the Romney is quoting is a complete out of context manipulation of three words. The requirements for the waivers to be granted, after requested are very clear. There are numerous statements regarding the conditions for the waiver to be an increase in employment, and also a statement stating the waivers would be revoked if documented trends are not shown. If you want Obama out at any cost, you will cheer this on, if you are an objective, fair person you will not agree with this. What Romeny is doing is the same thing as saying you don't owe taxes because they are voluntary. If you want to interpret text wrong, that is your choice, if you make a statement regarding that misinterpretation publicly, you are lying. Romney is lying, pure and simple.

    August 22, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  18. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    This guy is an ideologue who refuses to see facts when they counter his view. Don't interview him again because he hinders the conversation and proper dialogue.

    August 22, 2012 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  19. mark

    The Romney camp quadruples down on dumb....

    August 22, 2012 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    I hope this man is proud of the lies he tells to keep the fat cats in

    August 22, 2012 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  21. Big Jilm

    Thanks GOP for two things: pointing out to the public that you lie unconditionally and also that what the plan really does is put more people to work.

    Give the GOP more rope. They're on a roll this week!

    August 22, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  22. Reggie from LA

    NH had this for a governor. Ahh, the search for relevance, the dance for a dollar. This is classic Fox folks. "Just keep sayin' it over and over again". They'll eat it up. They hate Obama so much, it doesn't matter what we say." May sound like hyperbole to a lot of people. Truth to others.

    August 22, 2012 10:13 pm at 10:13 pm |
  23. Sue

    We are not dumb or stupid.....we can see right through the lies that these republicans keep telling.....do you think we are going to take your word for it....Ryan is even lying now blaming the cuts to defense all on Obama when he actually voted for it himself....does he think that his record on his votes will not be scrutinized.....his votes are on record for all to see.....so lying just makes him look like a flip flopper just like Romney......they are wolves in sheep clothing......never will I vote for this party of liars.

    August 22, 2012 10:16 pm at 10:16 pm |
  24. n

    Why are you media fleas giving the ugliest guy in America the time of day. His words are so invalid.

    August 22, 2012 10:20 pm at 10:20 pm |
  25. 920th RQS VET

    The PRESIDENT says "In fact what's happened was that my administration, responding to the requests of five governors, including two Republican governors, agreed to approve giving them, those states, some flexibility in how they manage their welfare rolls as long as it produced 20 percent increases in the number of people who are getting work," he said. "So in other words, we would potentially give states more flexibility to put more people back to work, not to take them off the work requirement under welfare." ........Sounds clear enough to me. Why do i get it and the guy that wants to run our country (M.Romney) doesn't? Could i be more intelligent then he?

    August 22, 2012 10:32 pm at 10:32 pm |
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