A new ad from Mitt Romney accuses President Obama of destroying one of the last Democratic president’s signature policies — the “Welfare to Work” program.
The ad is part of a new Romney campaign push focused on welfare, part of an ongoing effort to paint Obama as a big-government liberal out of step with former president Bill Clinton.
The ad criticizes Obama for permitting states to get waivers for the program — although Romney supported welfare waivers when he was Massachusetts governor.
“In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it,” the narrator says. “But on July 12th, President 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.”
Obama’s team counters that the waivers are not designed to eliminate work requirements but to offer states more flexibility and opportunity for experimentation. The rules can’t be expanded to include people who don’t currently qualify. To get a waiver, a governor must pledge that his or her proposed plan will move 20 percent more people from welfare to work. If no progress towards that target is made in a year, the waiver will be revoked.
A group of Republican governors asked in 2005 for waivers to get around the system’s bureaucratic red tape, which often rewards job-searching more than actual employment — something the White House is pointing out now. Romney was one of them, but it was not the same waiver being discussed now. Five states, including two with Republican governors — Nevada and Utah — have asked the current Health and Human Services Department about waivers.