This time, its about HHS issuing new rules about granting waivers to states in how they implement the requirements in welfare reform.
HHS is encouraging states to consider new, more effective ways to meet the goals of TANF [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families], particularly helping parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment. Therefore, HHS is issuing this information memorandum to notify states of the Secretary’s willingness to exercise her waiver authority under section 1115 of the Social Security Act to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.Almost immediately after the release of this directive, the Heritage Foundation published an article on their blog titled Obama Guts Welfare Reform.
States led the way on welfare reform in the 1990s — testing new approaches and learning what worked and what did not. The Secretary is interested in using her authority to approve waiver demonstrations to challenge states to engage in a new round of innovation that seeks to find more effective mechanisms for helping families succeed in employment.
Today, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive rewriting the welfare reform law of 1996. The new policy guts the federal work requirements that were the foundation of the reform law. The Obama directive bludgeons the letter and intent of the actual reform legislation.A simple google search shows how the entire right wing media ran with the story. Mitt Romney even took time away from calling the President a liar to issue a statement.
"President Obama now wants to strip the established work requirements from welfare,” Romney said. “The success of bipartisan welfare reform, passed under President Clinton, has rested on the obligation of work. The president’s action is completely misdirected. Work is a dignified endeavor, and the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life."Of course its all lies. The directive does NOTHING to remove the work requirements for TANF recipients. It gives the states the flexibility they were requesting about how to meet them.
Thank goodness for the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, where Dr. LaDonna Pavetti issued a response to all this nonsense.
The conservative complaints are ironic, to say the least. For one thing, they beg an obvious question: why would anyone oppose efforts to merely test whether there are better ways to connect people to jobs? For another, the complaints are coming from some of the same people who usually argue for giving states more power to run programs and who often seek state waivers in other programs...This is a positive bold move by Secretary Sebelius and the Obama administration. They are in the trenches doing all they can to make government work for the families who need it most.
Many TANF recipients have limited skills and low levels of education, leaving them with few employment prospects. The current TANF work requirements do little to encourage and support investments in education and training. Waivers will give states more flexibility to build education and training opportunities that are consistent with the labor market requirements of their communities, creating a win-win for TANF recipients and employers.