The White House fired back Wednesday against charges that President Obama is gutting welfare reform.
Presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, as well as other Republicans, blasted Obama’s decision last week to give states the opportunity to waive work requirements within their welfare programs. A handful of state administrators argued that the provision, part of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families package that reformed the federal welfare program back in 1996, has caused state employees to become bogged down in paperwork.
On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services informed states that they could begin replacing the work requirement with “alternative strategies.”
A top spokesman for the president argued today that a number of Republicans, including Romney, have previously advocated for waiving the work requirement.
“I have been surprised by the hypocrisy of our critics since many of them have in the past supported, and even proposed, such waivers,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Carney was referring to a 2005 letter written by the Republican Governors Association, which urged Congress to pass an extension of TANF that featured “increased waiver authority.” The letter was signed not only by Romney, but also by Texas Governor Rick Perry, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels and former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, who is rumored to be on Romney’s short list of potential running mates this year.
The measure was eventually passed in 2006 by the Republican-led Senate.
“It is surprising, to say the least, to see this kind of flip-flopping on the part of Republicans,” Carney said.
Carney insisted that Obama’s directive is not intended to encourage more welfare participation.
“This administration, in no way, supports any effort to undermine the work requirements that were fundamental to the welfare reform act signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.”