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  • Obama Administration Rebuffs Congressional Inquiry on Legality of Gutting Welfare Reform

    Two Members of Congress demanded an official explanation from Obama’s Health and Human Services Department (HHS) for its gutting of welfare work requirements—and HHS responded by saying (in many more words), “Well, years ago, some Republicans tried to do this.”

    Except they didn’t.

    Not only did Secretary Kathleen Sebelius completely ignore the legal questions surrounding the Administration’s unilateral rewriting of the law, but she also fabricated charges against Mitt Romney and 28 other Republican governors.

    Last week, the Obama Health and Human Services Department (HHS) issued an administrative order overturning the welfare-to-work provisions of the successful welfare reform of 1996. This action was blatantly illegal.

    Committee chairmen Senator Orrin Hatch (R–UT) and Congressman Dave Camp (R–MI) quickly sent a letter to Sebelius challenging the legality of the action and demanding an explanation of the legal basis for the power grab.

    HHS responded that Romney, as governor of Massachusetts, sought a waiver from federal work requirements in 2005.

    In support of this concoction, the Administration provided a letter from Romney and 28 other Republican governors to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R–TN) from that year.

    But this letter makes no mention at all of waiving work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In fact, the legislation promoted in the letter—the Personal Responsibility and Individual Development for Everyone (PRIDE) Act—actually would have toughened the federal work standards. It proposed raising the mandatory participation rates imposed on states from 50 percent to 70 percent of the adult TANF caseload and increasing the hours of required work activity.

    The governors’ letter actually contradicts the Administration’s main argument: If the law has always permitted HHS to waive the work requirements, then why didn’t the governors just request waivers from then-President George W. Bush? Why would legislation be needed?

    Two reasons: First, it has been clear for 15 years that the TANF law did not permit HHS to waive the work requirements. Second, the Republican governors were not seeking to waive the work requirements in the first place.

    The 2005 letter from Governor Romney and other Republican governors urged the Senate to reauthorize the TANF program, an action that should have occurred four years earlier. (Reauthorization did not occur because the Senate Democrats blocked it in 2002 and filibustered it in 2003.)

    In their 2005 letter, the governors do mention “increased waiver authority,” but they were clearly not asking for the ability to waive TANF work requirements. The mention of waiver authority relates to section 112(c) of the PRIDE bill: “program coordination demonstration projects.” The point of this very limited provision was to encourage 10 demonstrations on integrating and coordinating a limited set of welfare programs. The bill’s stated purpose was to “strengthen service systems and provide more coordination and effective service delivery.” The provision in the PRIDE bill did not grant section 1115 or any other authority to HHS to waive the TANF work standards.

    The governors’ letter also speaks of greater administrative flexibility. Both the House-passed reauthorization in 2002 and the PRIDE bill would have provided greater administrative flexibility and simplification in some aspects of the work program, while substantially strengthening the core work requirements. But these changes have never become law, because the Senate Democrats have, for 10 years, resolutely blocked the passage of a separate TANF reauthorization law. (TANF was reauthorized as part the Deficit Reduction Act in 2006, but that venue limited the types of legal changes that could be made.)

    The TANF work requirements have been extremely successful, lifting millions of Americans out of poverty, and they should not be overturned. Instead, they should be strengthened and applied in related programs such as food stamps and public housing.

    MORE FROM THE FOUNDRY:

    Obama Ends Welfare Reform as We Know It, Calls for $12.7 Trillion in New Welfare Spending

    Obama’s Gutting of Welfare Reform Is Illegal

    Morning Bell: Obama’s Imperial Presidency Guts Welfare Reform

    Obama Guts Welfare Reform

    Posted in Economics [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to Obama Administration Rebuffs Congressional Inquiry on Legality of Gutting Welfare Reform

    1. Devo Joh says:

      Well this will certainly get the vote from people who want to live without working.
      How far does Obama have to go to get intelligent liberals to see what's going on?

      • Susan says:

        My question: If this is in fact ILLEGAL what is Congress going to do about it??????????????

        • LicketySplit says:

          Guess…absolutely zip nada zero! They have no gonads whatsoever…obama has either threatened the whole congress or they are complicit..only two options available and im inclined to believe the latter.

        • John Detwiler says:

          Nothing! Harry Reid will ignore this as he has the many illegal act by Obama and his administration. Now you see why Obama and his morally blind minions in congress have to go. If he has his way the Constitution, that he ignores without the penalty (Charges of Treason) that this call for, will be a thing of the past. Then all Hell will ensue, not to pleasant a picture to look forward to, is it? There is only one way to prevent this. Get out and vote them out of office.

        • Eunice says:

          too bad they're not questioning EVERYTHING about the administration of the con man. Hey?
          Where is the impeachment that will throw him out on his ear where he belongs. Do they want our country to be another Greece, Spain or worse. I'm begining to think so.

      • CitizenOfTheRepublic says:

        intelligent liberals?javascript: hideMsgBox();

    2. Bobbie says:

      the democrat side takes time and other peoples' money to research history to see where they can compare their corrupt acts to something else to excuse themselves. These people have no dignity, no morals. All perpetual excuse after excuse! They're cowards in power that America calls to accountability and disciplinary measures to correct.

      Welfare can reform to nonexistence when government takes the proper role and America's self governing independence is rightfully the peoples.

      America doesn't need violence to enrage because this American government refuses to comply to their oath using foreign acts and 3rd world leadership behavior, in defiance of America!

    3. mike clark says:

      How stupid does Obama feel the American people are ,has Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi approved this illegal way of this President changing how the Welfare program was set up . I think the guy thinks be is the king and he can change anything he wants without Congressional approval . He has time and time appointed people and added new agency's without Congress approval. He cant even keep his own administration in order, GSA once again caught spending 287 thousand tax payer dollars for one night of awards. He just sent Pakistan a billion dollars , who the hell does he think he is any way. Someone needstoputa stop to this hypocrisy .

    4. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Watergate taught us, or should have, that NOBODY, NOT EVEN THE PRESIDENT, IS ABOVE THE LAW!

    5. OldSamsara says:

      From the 2005 letter under the heading State Flexability…

      "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."

      Signed by Mitt Romney,

      Why does Romney want to gut welfair reform?

      • Guest says:

        "But this letter makes no mention at all of waiving work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. In fact, the legislation promoted in the letter—the Personal Responsibility and Individual Development for Everyone (PRIDE) Act…"

        The problem with this and nearly every election is the massive glut of misinformation on both sides of the aisle about the opposite candidate and their party. This entire article falls squarely in the category of party propaganda. While I expect that certain "news organizations" are going to report on topics from either a conservative or liberal angle I also expect them to report the truth. No where in the letter from the governors does it state anything about the PRIDE Act. Counter to what the author would have us believe, TANF is directly mentioned/referenced throughout the entire letter as well as the ability to increase waiver authority. I'm not sure how one could read the letter and pretend that they saw anything that referenced the PRIDE Act. It was never mentioned by name nor by program abilities.

    6. Lex says:

      It's time for Heritage to get more vocal and aggressive about this topic. It has clearly hit a nerve as the NY Times and the Obama administration have labeled the Heritage position "completely false."

      Sending position papers to the Heritage faithful is not enough. It's time to make the truth be heard.

    7. Sincere says:

      I certainly hope that someone/or group will step up and put a plan in place to use the constitution to put an end to the ruthless methods that Obama uses to accomplish his own desires. This plan B should be in place in case he gets elected in November. There are enough people/countries standing in the wings ready to help Obama sell America down the river.

    8. putackle72 says:

      Most of you guys are missing the point. The nature, appropriateness and value of the law and whether or not the states can have waivers can be debated and should be debated. This is what the legislative branch is supposed to do. What should be discussed here is NOT the nature of the law, but how our government should work. We have not yet checked our republic at the pub door last time I checked. The Constitution outlines the ways laws are to be enacted, and it certainly is not by tyrannical power grabs by the president or by his unelected bureaucrats If work requirements or other specifics of the welfare act are to be considered for change, let our congressional representatives debate and vote on such changes. ZThat's how it's supposed to work. If POTUS doesn't like the bill that congress passes, veto the damn thing but don't try to take on their powers as your own.

    9. Lex says:

      The Heritage Foundation is getting hammered on this issue. Its integrity and competence are being questioned daily.

      Politics is not bean-bag. Heritage needs to fight back harder.

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