gutting Clinton's welfare-to-work policies
Romney's lies started with Romney's first campaign ad, when he edited footage of the president campaigning in 2008 to make it sound like something he'd said as president. The lies continued with Romney's flagrant "you didn't build that" lie. And Romney's latest ad is as dishonest as the others, attacking Obama for a policy that Romney himself requested as governor:
A new ad by Mitt Romney attacks President Obama’s directive to let states test new ways to implement welfare reform. But as governor of Massachusetts, Romney himself pushed the federal government for a similar policy."On July 12, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements," the ad claims, citing The Heritage Foundation as its source. "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. Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works."
There's so much wrong with this I hardly know where to begin. But let's start with the basic claim that Obama has dropped work requirements. That's not only false, it would be illegal if it were true. The work requirements are called requirements because they are required ... by law. To accuse Obama of having dropped the requirements is to accuse him of being a dictator. Even if he wanted to, he couldn't do it. And if he did do it, the courts would force him to stop.
Like every right-wing lie, however, there is something real behind their claim, even though it doesn't actually support their claim in the slightest. Specifically, it's this policy memo issued last month by the Obama administration notifying states that the administration will consider granting waivers to states on specific work requirements as long as the goal of the waivers is to move more people off of welfare and into work. The waivers do not create any new authority for the administration—they have been part of the law since it was signed in 1996. So the purpose of the memo wasn't to expand any new authority (or to tell states what to do), instead its purpose was to encourage states to consider applying for waivers if they desired more flexibility from Federal rules. In other words, the waivers are exactly the kind of thing the states' rights crowd usually applauds.
But not only was Romney's claim false, and not only was the administration's action designed to improve welfare-to-work system, but it turns out that the waiver memorandum delivered a key element of what Republican governors—including Mitt Romney himself—have sought after. Back in 2005, Mitt Romney joined his fellow Republican governors signing a letter requesting the very same thing outlined in the memo. "Increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work," Romney said. And the two states whose requests prompted the HHS memo are Utah and Nevada—both led by Republican governors.
So, quite literally, Romney's new ad rips what could be called Romneyfare. And unlike Romneycare, Romneyfare was supported by Republicans and is still supported by Republicans to this day. Unless, of course, President Obama does it. Then they hate it.
There's one last thing worth mentioning about this ad: in the process of lying about President Obama's welfare-to-work policy, it claims that Romney, not Obama, is the true heir to the Clinton presidency. That's just ridiculous, even if the rest of the ad weren't also a lie. I mean, this is the same Mitt Romney whose Republican Party impeached President Clinton; this is the same Mitt Romney who bragged on the campaign trail about voting against President Clinton every chance he got; and this is the same Mitt Romney who supported Bob Dole in 1996 and who George W. Bush in 2000 and in 2004. That's whose legacy Romney owns. Not Bill Clinton's.