MILLER: The work-to-welfare president

Romney and Obama clash over a requirement to work for checks

President Obama keeps doing an end run around Congress to enact his liberal policies. His dictatorial move to end the work requirement for welfare recipients isn’t going unchallenged. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has made the issue central to the campaign, which has thrown Mr. Obama back on his heels.

Mr. Romney has been hammering the point continually this week. On Tuesday, the campaign started airing a TV ad called “Right Choice” which has a narrator saying, “In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it. By requiring work for welfare. 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.”

In Iowa on Wednesday, Mr. Romney said, “When I was serving as governor, my legislature passed a bill that would have taken out some of the work requirements. I vetoed it. Then I went to work to try and extend and to improve and to require even more work requirements because I want more people working if they’re going to receive government assistance.” The former Massachusetts governor promised that if elected, he will restore the work requirement.

The Obama campaign spun into full-defense mode, putting out 12 statements in two days about the welfare attacks. In response to the Republican TV ad, Democrats released a web-only video called “Dubious” with a voiceover claiming, “Romney, flexible on welfare and the truth.”

The campaign also orchestrated a statement from Mr. Clinton defending the current president’s policy by attempting to clarify that, “waivers will be granted only if a state can demonstrate that more people will be moved into work under its new approach.” No one denied that states could let people off the hook for working for their checks under these new Health and Human Services guidelines.

Ted Cruz, the Tea Party favorite who last week won the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate in Texas, told reporters on Tuesday, “This is unfortunately an election-year decision by the president that is pleasing to some of the political ideologues in his party but is sacrificing the welfare of those most vulnerable in society in order to gain a political advantage for President Obama.”

Newt Gingrich, who as House speaker negotiated the changes to Temporary Assistance for Needy Families with Mr. Clinton, stated on CNN Wednesday, “Obama does not have the authority to waive this requirement.”

Mr. Obama’s political calculation is to guarantee the votes of those on government assistance, institute his liberal policies while in power and bolster his theme that Mr. Romney only cares about the rich. However, he’s on the wrong side of the electorate. A Rasmussen poll taken a week after the policy change in July showed that 83 percent of Americans favor a work requirement for welfare recipients.

The welfare-to-work concept moved America away from a permanent dependency class, but Obama profligacy has kept unemployment stuck above 8 percent during his White House stay. This new backward policy clarifies that Mr. Obama’s presidency is really about moving millions from work to welfare.

Emily Miller is a senior editor for the Opinion pages at The Washington Times.

© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

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