President Barack Obama’s campaign lashed out at his Republican contender, Mitt Romney, on Tuesday for claiming that welfare was being “gutted” by the current administration.
“These false and extremely hypocritical attacks demonstrate how Mitt Romney lacks the core strength and principles the nation needs in a President,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said.
In an ad released Tuesday, Romney accuses Obama of undermining welfare reform.
“On July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check, and welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare,” the ad says.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) last month encouraged states to experiment with better ways to administer the Temporary Assistant for Needy Families (TANF) program, informing state officials that the department was willing to grant waivers to states that wished to opt-out of provisions of the welfare law, including the work requirement.
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.
“Mitt Romney continues to make statements that he knows are both untrue and hypocritical,” Smith added. “The Obama administration, working with the Republican governors of states like Nevada and Utah, is giving states additional flexibility only if they move more people from welfare to work – not fewer.”
Utah and Nevada have already asked for waivers. Other states, including California, Connecticut and Minnesota, have also asked about waivers, according to the HHS.
“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 in July. “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.”
“The new policy we announced will allow states to test new, more effective ways to help parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment,” Sheldon added. “States can apply for waivers of federal requirements that get in their way. These waiver applications will be available for public review.”
Obama’s campaign noted that in 2005, Romney signed a Republican Governor’s Association letter to Congress that called for increased waiver authority to give the states more flexibility in administering the welfare program — the very same waivers he now claims are gutting welfare reform.