Earlier this summer, President Obama quietly signed an executive order waiving the work requirements from the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney quickly launched television ads slamming Obama for gutting a successful program. Obama, a number of “fact check” organizations and now President Clinton are slamming Romney for badly misleading the public on what the Obama administration did.
So who is right?
Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation wrote the work requirements for the 1996 legislation. He says Obama is blatantly breaking the law because the law explicitly states that no president could change the work requirements, since those were the heart and soul of the reforms.
Last week, former President Clinton told the Democratic National Convention that the changes made by Obama came at the request of Republican governors and actually required more work. Rector takes dead aim at both contentions. First, he says no Republican governor asked for the waiver. It was actually a career welfare bureaucrat in Nevada.
Rector also says the increased employment referenced by Clinton is a joke. He says the percentages involved would easily be achieved through cleaning up the welfare rolls. In the meantime, the other 98 percent of able-bodied adults on welfare would have no work requirements - just as it was before the reforms from 1996.
Rector says Clinton’s defense of Obama on welfare is the equivalent of a snake oil salesman for welfare and is nothing more than a sham. He also points out that Clinton vetoed welfare reform twice and was urged to veto it a third time but relented out of fear of losing to Bob Dole. And Rector notes that the liberal wing of the Democratic Party strenuously opposed welfare reform in the 1990s and have fought to reverse the work requirements ever since.