Bill Clinton denounces Romney’s welfare ad


Former President Bill Clinton at the Clinton Presidential Library (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

“Gov. Romney released an ad today alleging that the Obama administration had weakened the work requirements of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. That is not true,” Clinton said in a statement from his office at the Clinton Foundation released late Tuesday night.

The Romney campaign ad criticizes Obama for allowing states to acquire waivers for the so-called “Welfare to Work” program.

The ad says that Obama “quietly announced a plan to 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.”

Clinton said the waiver policy was enacted at the request of GOP governors from Utah and Nevada who wanted more flexibility in their programs. Moreover, he said it will not “gut” the program.

“The administration has taken important steps to ensure that the work requirement is retained and that waivers will be granted only if a state can demonstrate that more people will be moved into work under its new approach,” Clinton said. “The welfare time limits, another important feature of the 1996 act, will not be waived.”

The fact that Clinton is defending Obama, of course, is not surprising, given that they are both Democrats and Clinton supports Obama. But as a former president, his repudiation of Romney’s ad does carry more weight than anything the Obama campaign or White House could supply.

Romney spokesman Ryan Williams responds: “President Obama was a vocal opponent of the innovative, bipartisan welfare reforms that President Clinton and a Republican Congress passed in 1996. His administration has now undermined the central premise of those reforms by gutting the welfare-to-work requirement. Unlike President Obama, Mitt Romney has a record of fighting to strengthen work requirements. As president, he will ensure that nearly 16 years of progress aren’t erased with one stroke of a pen.”

Updated at 12:13 a.m.

Aaron Blake covers national politics and writes regularly for The Fix.

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