Eagle Forum Legislative Alerts

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Obama Sabotages Welfare Reform

The crowning achievement of the Republican Congress of 1996 was welfare reform. That reform succeeded in reducing the welfare rolls by almost half, and was so popular with the American people that Bill Clinton felt compelled to sign it into law. The magic bullet that achieved this authentic reform was requiring able-bodied adults to work, or at least prepare for work, as a condition of receiving taxpayer handouts. In addition, the Republican welfare reform required every state to make 40% of welfare recipients work at least 30 hours a week, or look for work, or take on-the-job-training, vocational schooling or some job-readiness training. This "work" requirement imposed on welfare recipients and the states was not only good for the taxpayers, it was good for the recipients because it put them on the path to self-sufficiency and to a decline in child poverty.

The welfare system that was formerly called Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) was retitled Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The change wasn't merely semantic; the plan was to make welfare temporary, helping families to give up dependency on government. Before 1996, there was nothing temporary about welfare. It was a permanent subsidy for a lifestyle that subsidized illegitimacy and avoidance of responsibility for individual behavior. Contrary to claims of those who opposed the new system, the dramatic success of the Republican welfare reform was due not to giving more flexibility to state governments, but was due to putting tough restrictions on how the states spent the money.

Now President Obama has ended welfare reform by the gimmick of issuing waivers to the law's "work" requirement. The welfare reform law forbids that, making the "work requirement "mandatory." The TANF law states that waivers cannot be issued unless they are specifically listed in Section 1115, and welfare's "work" requirement" is not so listed. But Obama did it anyway, and that's why people are correct in saying that President Obama violated the law.

Listen to the radio commentary here:

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