Monday, July 16, 2012

Obama's view on welfare: Able-bodied adults shouldn't have to work

At the heart of the welfare reform law of 1996 was the requirement that able-bodied adults needed to work or actively pursue employment as a condition for receiving welfare aid. It was one of the most successful domestic policy reforms of the 20th century. 

Before the reform, welfare rolls rarely declined  in the  decades since welfare was first offered. But in just four years after the 1996 welfare reform went into effect, welfare case loads were cut almost in half, employment surged and child poverty among blacks and single mothers plummeted to historic lows. The driving force behind these factors was the simple requirement in the 1996 reform law that able-bodied adults try to find work in order to receive welfare.

But because President Obama cannot abide the concept of any self-responsibility, and because he is actively pandering to any and every group that represents potential votes for his reelection bid, he allowed a directive last week from the HHS department that essentially undoes the 1996 welfare reform act's requirement that people work or seek work in order to receive public assistance.  As of this latest action, anyone who is perfectly healthy and capable can now live off the taxpayers without having to do a thing.

And in a manner that is becoming the Obama administration's hallmark trait,  the 1996 law was tweaked illegally. The reform replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children - which essentially paid a woman more money for every child she had - with a new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which created the rigorous federal work standards that states were required to implement. But Obama's directive states that the TANF work requirements will be waived or overridden by a device called a "section 1115 waiver authority" under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315). 

However, section 1115 states that “the Secretary may waive compliance with any of the requirements” of specified parts of various laws, but any provision of law that can be waived under section 1115 must be listed in section 1115 itself. The work provisions of the TANF program are contained in section 407 - which Congress deliberately did in drafting the 1996 reform law specifically to protect the work requirements from being waiveable, as they would've been if listed in section 1115. In other words, Congress did not want the welfare reform law's work requirements to be tampered with by bureaucrats.

Of the roughly 35 sections of the TANF law, only one is listed as waiveable under section 1115 -- section 402, which says that state governments must report to HHS the actions they take to comply with the many requirements established in the other sections of the TANF law. As reported in research by Robert Rector, "The authority to waive section 402 provides the option to waive state reporting requirements only, not to overturn the core requirements of the TANF program contained in the other sections of the TANF law.

"The new Obama dictate asserts that because the work requirements, established in section 407, are mentioned as an item that state governments must report about in section 402, all the work requirements can be waived. This removes the core of the TANF program; TANF becomes a blank slate that HHS bureaucrats and liberal state bureaucrats can rewrite at will."

As the 1996 law was written, no part of the Obama's administration has the authority to change it or waive the work requirements, but that is what has been done.  Since Obama has issued no opposition to this move, it seems once again that this president will do anything it takes to get the votes he so desperately wants.  By allowing the rewriting of laws at his own will - without Congress, without oversight, without public support - Obama is transforming America's identity as a nation of law. He is erasing the very fiber and foundation of our country while pushing class warfare and jealousy. And by essentially telling Americans they don't have to work in order to receive aid, he is diminishing our dignity as self-reliant people who believe in the American dream of setting a goal, working for it, and enjoying the hard-earned fruits of our labors. But in Obama's America, dependence on government is the ultimate goal, while success and hard work are things to be scorned, demeaned and resented.

These are pathetic acts of desperation by a man's shameless attempts to manipulate votes despite the costs of his actions to the American people. What a sad state we are in when the supposed leader and his followers would gladly destroy this country and the Constitution in order to win an election. One can only hope that common sense will prevail, and America will understand the damage that lies ahead if this poor excuse for a president is reelected. 

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  1. Counterpoint:

    I think it's a good idea that states should be allowed to look at different ways to improve employment among those receiving welfare. The memo also didn't come from Obama; it came from George Sheldon. Obama's related memo was this: federal agencies must “work closely with state, local, and tribal governments to identify administrative, regulatory, and legislative barriers in Federally funded programs that currently prevent states, localities, and tribes, from efficiently using tax dollars to achieve the best results for their constituents."

  2. So the President is allowing others to just undo laws? The directive came from the Obama administration through the HHS. It's funny how Obama's supporters don't hold Obama accountable for anything but years after Bush left office, so many are still holding Bush accountable for everything. But no matter how the liberal Washington Post wants to spin it, the portion of the welfare law cannot even be "tweaked" given the section in which it resides - it is not waiver-eligible. Nice try though!

  3. I don't think Obama ever learned how the government was set up. He doesn't seem to know why we have the house or the senate. To him, the white house is just a palace and the oval office is his throne room. All those Senators and Congressmen are really just his many 'advisors'. Who knows when he'll waive his little pen around and tweak another law he doesn't like???