Mitten’s just can’t help himself. Why provide facts and have an honest debate when another lie will do? Seems like Newty tried this same kind of racist garbage during his fake run for the Presidency. Here are the Romney lies followed by the truth on President Obama’s record on Welfare.
Mitt’s Latest Lies
They rule Romney’s assertions “Pants On Fire” lies.
The HHS memo
Since 1996, welfare has been administered through block grants to states through a program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. TANF, as it’s called, limits how long families can get aid and requires recipients to eventually go to work. It also includes stringent reporting requirements for states to show they are successfully moving people off welfare and and into the workforce.
A memo from George Sheldon, the acting assistant secretary at HHS, said the department wanted to give states more flexibility in meeting those requirements. The memo notifies states “of the Secretary’s willingness to exercise her waiver authority … to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”
The memo outlined, using the jargon of a federal bureaucracy, the kinds of waivers that would be considered. It suggested projects that “improve collaboration with the workforce and/or post-secondary education systems” and “demonstrate strategies for more effectively serving individuals with disabilities,” to give two examples.
What does all that mean?
“If you can do a better job connecting people to work, we would consider waiving certain parts of the performance measures and use alternate measures,” is how Liz Schott, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, translated the memo’s point. (The center supports the plan.)
Schott, who studies welfare policy, said TANF sets guidelines for what activities may count toward meeting the law’s work requirements: jobs, job training, internships or school, to name a few. Beyond that, it puts restrictions on how many hours a welfare client may spend at school, or how many consecutive months they can attend before that activity no longer counts toward the work requirement.
The result: “States are running less-effective programs than they might be, because they are so driven by performance measurement as it’s set forth in the federal law,” Schott said.
The waivers, then, would allow for flexibility. For example, someone with a special-needs child might require different work arrangements than are currently allowed. Or a person who needs to improve his or her English skills might need more time to take classes.
“It’s really about the underlying program,” Schott said. “The real starting place is: What’s the most effective program to get this person to work?”
In a memo released along with the ad, the Romney campaign says the change “undermines the very premise of welfare reform. It is an insult to Americans on welfare who are looking for an opportunity to build better lives for themselves. And it is a kick in the gut to the millions of hard-working middle-class taxpayers struggling in today’s economy, working more for less but always preferring self-sufficiency to a government handout.”
Obama, it says, “hopes states will consider approaches that remove work participation rate requirements all together.”
The HHS letter contains no such language. In several places, it says only proposals from states that “improve employment outcomes” will be considered.
It’s important to note, however, that the waivers would not just be a change on paper. Schott said it’s possible that waivers will allow states to get credit under the work requirement for things that don’t count currently.
That possibility has critics of the proposal up in arms. Robert Rector, a welfare expert with the conservative Heritage Foundation, said it could ultimately allow “state bureaucrats” to count activities that aren’t really work.
We should point out that those concerns are at odds with the policy’s stated goal of encouraging employment.
The Romney campaign also contends that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is not legally allowed to waive the existing work requirements. Rector argues that the part of the law allowing waivers does not cover TANF work provisions.
“Critically, this section, as well as most other TANF requirements, is deliberately not listed… its provisions cannot be waived,” Rector wrote in a July 12 column in the National Review.
We think that’s a noteworthy point, but it’s one that a court will have to settle.
Romney’s ad says, “Under Obama’s plan (for welfare), you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”
That’s a drastic distortion of the planned changes to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. By granting waivers to states, the Obama administration is seeking to make welfare-to-work efforts more successful, not end them. What’s more, the waivers would apply to individually evaluated pilot programs — HHS is not proposing a blanket, national change to welfare law.
The ad tries to connect the dots to reach this zinger: “They just send you your welfare check.” The HHS memo in no way advocates that practice. In fact, it says the new policy is “designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”
The ad’s claim is not accurate, and it inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance. Pants on Fire!
President Obama is a champion of welfare-to-work programs. Recently, he gave states more of the tools they need to help move people from assistance to employment as quickly as possible. Republican governors have been asking for these new tools for years—and in 2005 Governor Romney himself requested the same kind of flexibility that the Obama administration provided.
But rather than work with the President on welfare reform, Mitt Romney and his Republican allies are launching false attacks on the very changes they once supported. They are claiming that President Obama weakened the welfare-to-work requirements when the opposite is true.
In fact, Romney’s ad has been called “wildly misleading,” “mind-boggling,” “dubious,”“hypocritical,” “false,” and a “huge and shameless deception.” The New York Times said Romney “has hit new depths of truth-twisting” with this “blatantly false” ad. Politifact gave Romney’s ad a rating of “pants on fire.”
Here are the facts.
Under the welfare reform law signed by President Clinton, states are required to move people from federal assistance to work. While the goal was to give each state flexibility to create a program that met their own local needs, some federal requirements are extremely complex.
States say that their caseworkers spend more time completing paperwork than helping people get work. States, especially Republican-led states like Utah and Nevada, have asked for more flexibility so that they can create more successful programs. President Obama listened to their concerns, and announced new options to help meet their needs.
Under the President’s policy, states can build the welfare to work program that is best for them, and can apply for waivers from federal requirements that get in their way. This new policy cannot be used to weaken welfare reform: Waivers that weaken or undercut welfare reform will not be approved. Waivers will not be granted to avoid time limits on when assistance may be provided. The only waivers that will be granted will test approaches that can do a better job at promoting work among families receiving assistance.
The False Attack
This is a common sense reform to give governors—including some of Romney’s supporters—flexibility to live up to the goals of the welfare reform law. Romney should know: He used to support these kinds of waivers. In 2005, he joined other Republican governors in a letter to Senator Frist, urging the Senate to move quickly on “increased waiver authority” for the welfare program.
- Politifact: “By granting waivers to states, the Obama administration is seeking to make welfare-to-work efforts more successful, not end them. What’s more, the waivers would apply to individually evaluated pilot programs—HHS is not proposing a blanket, national change to welfare law.”
- NBC:“But does the memo do what the Romney campaign charges—that it guts welfare reform, gets rid of work requirements entirely, and would ‘just send you your welfare check’? Not exactly … The administration’s HHS memo certainly does not make it so the federal government will now “just send you your welfare check,” as the Romney campaign’s television ad asserts.”
- ABC: “The claim appears to be an exaggeration … another exaggeration … a bit hypocritical … As the Obama campaign has pointed out, Romney signed a 2005 letter to Sen. Bill Frist (along with Rick Perry, Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, Tim Pawlenty, etc.), when welfare programs were being reauthorized under Bush. As the governors lobbied Frist on the bill, they praised ‘state flexibility.’”
- Salon: “As has already been widely noted, the line of attack is complicated by a few problems. First of all, it’s not true, or at least wildly misleading. Obama’s plan doesn’t end work requirements … Secondly, it’s a little tricky to slam Obama for handing out waivers when Romney himself supported the exact same proposal as governor of Massachusetts in 2005.”
- Time’s Joe Klein: “How incompetent is the Romney campaign? They keep coming up with these stupid gambits—the last was the lie that Obama opposed early voting for members of the military in Ohio—that are shot down instantaneously (everywhere but in Fox-Rush land) … But there is a larger question here: How stupid does he think we are? Every day brings a mind-boggling act of untruth-telling.”
Ultimately, President Obama reached across the aisle and put in place a new policy that will make welfare to work stronger. By joining some in his party to falsely criticize a policy that empowers states to implement welfare reform, Romney has made it clear that he is far more interested in another political attack against the President than he is in actually finding solutions.