Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee (R) on Tuesday decried changes to the Temporary Assistant for Needy Families (TANF) law, claiming the Obama administration was trying to make Americans more dependent on the government.
“It’s basically just a transfer of money from the taxpayer to the government, from the government to people who become beneficiaries of the government, because that way the government can own these people,” Huckabee said on Fox and Friends, according to Politico. “It is a trap, and it is like the roach motel. Once you get in, but you never get out.”
The TANF program — which helps poor families with children pay for living expenses such as rent, heat, utilities and personal care items — requires those receiving payments to be employed or looking for work. Nearly four million Americans currently receive TANF payments.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last week encouraged states to experiment with better ways to administer the program, informing officials that the department was willing to grant waivers to states that wished to opt-out of the work-requirement provision of the welfare law.
“When the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) program was established as part of welfare reform in the 1990s, it was intended to give states flexibility to design effective programs to help parents move from welfare to work,” George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families, said. “Today, however, Federal rules dictate mind-numbing details about how to run a welfare-to-work program. Most States and experts agree that these aren’t helpful.”
Two states with Republican governors, Utah and Nevada, have already asked for waivers. California, Connecticut, and Minnesota have also asked about waivers, according to the HHS.
Huckabee claimed the waivers were illegal because they circumvented Congress. He also said the waivers would allow poor families to get "paid for essentially getting a massage."