You are here: HomeU.S. NewsPoliticsCritics Blast Obama for Gutting 1996 Welfare Reform Law
Thursday, 09 August 2012 15:17

Critics Blast Obama for Gutting 1996 Welfare Reform Law

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Republican critics and presumed GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney are slamming President Obama for reversing a landmark welfare reform law instituted in 1996 under the Clinton administration. The 1996 law enacted a number of reforms, including a time limit on how long families could receive aid, a requirement that recipients must eventually find work, and a provision that replaced a federal entitlement with grants to the states.

The debacle underscores the work requirements attached to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), the federal assistance program that became welfare in 1996. Currently, the program includes a series of requirements that address work activities, including on-the-job-training, subsidized or unsubsidized employment, and pursuing high school or GED certification. Further, the reform law mandates that states monitor the hours welfare recipients spend in these work activities, with 50 percent required to participate (or lower if they reduce their caseloads).

The controversy centers on the fact that last month the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued an order providing an exemption to states if they meet certain requirements. Families would still be required to get jobs or at least prepare for employment, but states can now receive waivers from the original standards.

But while the administration touts the effort as an innovative measure to get more families off the welfare rolls, Republican lawmakers and conservative advocates blamed the HHS’ move for terminating the program’s work requirement. “This is a brazen and unwarranted unraveling of welfare reform,” asserted House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who helped draft the 1996 law.

Mr. Romney also joined the fray, blasting the president for eliminating key welfare reform measures. “You wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job,” stated a new ad by the Romney campaign. “They just send you your welfare check.”

Political activist and champion of welfare reform Star Parker also railed against the waiver, adding that Obama and the White House “really like people enslaved to government dependency.” Ms. Parker, who herself had been on welfare for seven years, played a chief role in the 1996 law’s passage.

During a recent Conservative Women’s Network event at The Heritage Foundation, CNSNews.com asked Parker about the administration’s controversial move: “The Obama administration has waived the work requirements in welfare reform. You were obviously a huge champion of that reform in the 90s; what’s your initial reaction and what effect will this move have on the program?”

“Well, my initial reaction is — what are they not going to destroy?” Park responded. “We were very successful with the work requirements in welfare reform. The women were successful. We’re talking 5 million women and 9 million children whose lives changed because of work requirements. These children, for the first time in their lives, had an opportunity in America to be prosperous because of their mom bringing in more than the welfare would pay.”

However, regardless of how the programs are administered, Parker indicated, the ultimate goal is to curb expansive entitlement programs that are squandering taxpayer dollars and further bloating government deficits. 

“[W]hen you promise somebody that you’re going to take care of them from womb to tomb, the end result is larger numbers dependent, which is what’s happening in food stamps and more bankruptcy, if you will, for our government coffers,” she continued. “We’re not going to be able to limit the size and scope of government, reduce that size, if we continue to allow for these out-of-control poverty programs.”

Strangely, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius boasted that the administration eliminated the TANF work requirements to boost employment among welfare recipients. Further, the agency asserts that states receiving a waiver must “commit that their proposals will move at least 20 percent more people from welfare to work compared to the state’s prior performance.” 

However, as Heritage’s Amy Payne indicates, given the trends of welfare turnover rates, a quick-fix method for states to meet the requirement will be to boost the number of people on welfare in the first place. “On the surface, [the 20-percent requirement] sounds impressive, but a state can meet this goal merely by raising its monthly employment exits from, say, 5 percent to 6 percent of caseload,” Heritage’s Robert Rector adds. “That kind of change will occur automatically as the economy improves, even without bureaucratic action.”

In effect, the new HHS standard is, according to Rector, merely a ploy by the Obama administration to exempt liberal-leaning states from the traditional TANF participation rates without disclosing its true intent.

Photo: President Bill Clinton signing welfare reform legislation in 1996

3 comments

  • Comment Link Frank M. Pelteson Friday, 10 August 2012 09:28 posted by Frank M. Pelteson

    The basic characteristic of the Welfare State was promulgated by Karl Marx: "From Each According to his Ability to Each According to His Need."

    The basic characteristics of the Marxian Strategy is "Pressure from Above and Below."combined with "Two Steps Forward and One Step Back."

    All of these features are in play in increasing amounts ever since Adam Weishaupt founded the Order of the Illuminati in the 18th century.

    The motto of The John Birch Society goes in the opposite direction: "Less Government, More Responsibility, and, with God's Help, a Better World."

    Until a massive amount of people realize that the world is in the grip of an Illuminati Conspiracy to subjugate mankind in a World Socialist Police Sate under the United Nations, this malaise will continue.

    Only The John Birch Society has the solution to this problem and it invites responsible, moral people to join its epic endeavor to expose this Conspiracy with pullers at the oars, not passengers in the boat.

  • Comment Link open Thursday, 09 August 2012 18:36 posted by open

    Republican lawmakers and conservative advocates blamed the HHS’ move for terminating the program’s work requirement.

    THEY ARE ALL ON $2 MILLION A YEAR IN BACK DOOR IN LOBBIESTS' MONEY AND THEY WANT MORE GREED AND MONEY!! EACH AND EVERY DAY!!..

    WHAT>??? AND WTF+++ THE REPUBS ARE SPENDING $6 BILLION TO GET THIS PUPPET FASCIST BASTARD WARMONGER MITT THE TITT ELECTED.. AND THE MARXIST OBOMB THE SAME SPENDING OF $6 BILLION!! BULLSHIT!!

    TOTALLY DISCRACEFULL!! SHAMEFULL AND CORRUPTED!
    THE DEMS ARE THE SAME!!

    ALL OF OUR GOVT NEEDS TO BE ARRESTED AND DE-FLOCKED AND THEIR BANKSTER ACCTS DRAINED AND GVN TO HARD WORKING AMERICANS!

    JAIL THEM ==TRIAL THEM AND PUT THEM IN THE GULAG FOR LIFE!! THATS THE CHANGE USA NEEDS!! NOT MORE CORRUPT POLITITICAN AND GOVTS.

    THE BUSH ADMIN,... THE OBOMB ADMIN,....THE FASCIST BASTARD NEO CONS WHO BROUGHT US 67 YEARS OF UN-ENDING ENDLESS WARS AND THE TOTALY ILLEAGL FED RESERVE!! AND WALL STREET GLOBALIST BANKSTER CABALS!!

    THEY ALL NEED TO GO!! NOW!! NOW !! NOW!!==TO THE GULAG!

  • Comment Link REMant Thursday, 09 August 2012 14:43 posted by REMant

    I've always been somewhat ambivalent about work requirements - it perpetuates the welfare bureaucracy for one thing - and I'm joined in this by the late Milton Friedman who advocated a negative income tax. However, I would like to point out that, with unemployment as high as it is, it's hard enough for qualified ppl to find work.

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