Last night, former President Bill Clinton claimed that President Obama had not gutted welfare reform. Clinton proclaimed that Obama would actually strengthen welfare reform by urging states to increase the number of people moving “from welfare to work” by 20 percent.
What is Obama really doing? In July, the Obama Administration illegally declared that it would waive all the work requirements in the 1996 welfare reform law. State welfare bureaucracies will no longer be obligated to obey the federal work requirements written in that law.
The Obama Administration will put in mothballs the formal purpose of welfare reform—to reduce the number of people dependent on government benefits. The Administration will abandon the legislative performance goal that encourages states to reduce welfare caseloads. It will weaken the “work participation” standards that require some 30 percent of able-bodied Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) recipients to engage in work activities for 20 to 30 hours per week.
Even worse, the Obama Administration will “waive compliance” with those work participation standards entirely and replace them with alternative standards designed unilaterally by Health and Human Services (HHS) bureaucrats without congressional input or approval. It will encourage states to use those new standards “in lieu of” the work requirements written in the statute. In other words, HHS explicitly plans to jettison the work requirements provided in the law and replace them with an alternative reform model.
What is that new model of reform? HHS asserts that states will be exempted from work “participation rate requirements” (requiring welfare recipients to engage in work activities) if they raise the number of individuals leaving welfare for work (called “employment exits”) by 20 percent. Clinton defended this by saying, “The requirement was for more work, not less.”
Read More at heritage.org. By Robert Rector.