Saturday, July 14, 2012

Obama Administration: Reforming Welfare Reform

Once again, I find that the right wing in this country is on a story about the Obama administration's work towards reform and the left is pretty much silent. Even though good government is our best defense of liberal policies, we don't seem to want to pay attention to the work it takes to get there.

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.

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.
Almost immediately after the release of this directive, the Heritage Foundation published an article on their blog titled Obama Guts Welfare Reform.
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...

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.
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.


  1. This is a clarion call to the men and women of the United States of America: make a stand NOW. You must make a peaceful and civil stand now! When you stand you shall stand upon the Constitution. We The People must say enough is enough! We have had enough of the Executive branch going around the Legislative Branch.

    President Obama's motivations matter not. The results of his actions matter not. The methods that Obama has used to impose his will are unacceptable. We have a Law and limits on Executive power for a reason. Look at the DOMA Law, the Immigration issue, and not this welfare issue. The more people there are on welfare, the less money there is for everyone on the welfare rolls. By allowing the States to ignore the searching-for-work requirement yes more people will jump on the welfare rolls. This will mean less money available for them and the people already on the welfare rolls.

    The Law excluded the Search-for-Work requirement from being waived for a reason. Now, without
    Congressional action, President Obama and his administration has rewritten the law. In doing so he and his admin. have violated the checks and balances. They have made law without the consent of the Legislature.

    He may have the purest motives. His motives don't change the fact that he is acting more like a Ruler than a Leader. Who do YOU, the People, want running the USA? A ruler or a leader:

    1. I'll simply remind you that Barack Obama is the duly elected President of the United States...elected by the people.

      He is simply doing exactly what Romney and other conservative republicans have always said they wanted - let the states be the ones to experiment with what works to meet the legislative goals.

      The law requires time limits on TANF - none of that changes. The goal of welfare reform was to move people from dependence to jobs. All this directive does is let states experiment with how to best meet that outcome.

      So relax with the tyranny of rulers nonsense.

    2. Exactly. What a troll.