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  • Morning Bell: Obama Doesn't Just Gut Welfare Reform, He Turns It Upside Down

    The controversy over the Obama Administration’s gutting of welfare reform continues to grow. Two new government reports show the move’s illegality and effects on taxpayers. And the House of Representatives is set to vote today to approve or disapprove Health and Human Services’ (HHS) rewriting of the 1996 law.

    Yesterday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a new report saying that in the years since the Clinton-era reform added work requirements to the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program, five states inquired about waivers of TANF requirements. The report confirms that since welfare reform was enacted, HHS has never before suggested that it had any authority to waive the work requirements. Waiver requests were turned down, in fact.

    In specific instances in 2005 and 2007, the response from HHS was clear: “HHS stated that all applicable programmatic requirements apply to a family that is provided TANF-funded cash assistance, and the Department does not have authority to waive any of the provisions.”

    In the debate thus far, one question has largely gone unanswered: Just how strict are these now-controversial work requirements?

    In a new report, Heritage expert Robert Rector explains that “the work requirements were quite lenient, requiring only 30 percent to 40 percent of a state’s caseload to participate in work or a work-related activity and requiring individuals to work as few as 20 hours per week to fulfill the requirement….Yet half of TANF recipients receive a welfare check without performing any activity at all.”

    In a snapshot of the TANF recipients in March 2011, only about 14 percent of the recipients were actually meeting the work requirements. The other 86 percent were receiving their welfare benefits just the same.

    As Rector says, “It is difficult to understand why anyone would want to weaken these already overly lenient work standards.” Yet he details the left’s vigorous opposition to work requirements in welfare dating back to the Nixon Administration.

    The Obama Administration’s rewriting of the law will cost taxpayers, too. A new estimate by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) says that the Obama Administration’s move will actually increase the deficit by $60 million over the next 10 years. Why? Because states have been paying penalties if they aren’t meeting the work requirements—and under the Administration’s rewriting of the law, those penalties are gone. So is the revenue to the federal government.

    But the Administration’s gutting of welfare reform not only costs taxpayers; it also harms those welfare reform was designed to help. By jettisoning the law’s goal of reducing dependency, the new policy will increase welfare caseloads and leave more people stuck in poverty.

    Workfare separates those who truly need help from those who do not. Faced with a simple requirement to prepare or search for work, many people simply choose not to enter the welfare rolls in the first place. This is generally good for the prospective recipient and the taxpayer. As Rector explains:

    Time spent on welfare never looks good on a job resume. Welfare dependence erodes work habits and job skills and reduces contacts with other employed persons that can lead to future job opportunities. Unnecessary enrollment in welfare therefore undermines an individual’s long-term earnings potential and increases the prospects for future poverty.

    Those already on welfare, faced with a requirement to search or prepare for work, leave welfare much more quickly. Having a work requirement tied to welfare benefits is good for recipients and good for taxpayers. As Rector’s new report shows, stronger, not weaker, work requirements are needed.

    But the Obama Administration is moving in the opposite direction. Under the new welfare performance measures devised by the Administration, the old pre-reform welfare program with rapidly rising caseloads would be judged a rousing success, while welfare reform itself—with rapid declines in the caseload—would be judged a failure. As Rector states, “The Obama Administration is not just gutting welfare reform; it is turning it on its head.”

    Falsehoods continue to circulate on this topic, but the facts are starting to break through. After speaking with Heritage’s Rector, The Washington Post’s “fact check” columnist took a second look at former President Bill Clinton’s recent speech and gave him two “Pinocchios” for misleading people about the TANF work requirements.

    Heritage just held a fact check panel of its own this week, featuring Rector, Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT), The Daily Caller’s Mickey Kaus, and Kay Hymowitz of the Manhattan Institute. Watch the video here.

    Quick Hits:

    • The Justice Department’s inspector general has issued a report about the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal, but critical information about the White House’s involvement is still missing, reports Human Events.
    • The White House is close to completing its next executive order that will legislate by administrative fiat. This one will enact cybersecurity rules that couldn’t pass Congress.
    • A senior Pentagon official argued yesterday that the Obama Administration’s “reset” policy with Russia is working.
    • A Christian schoolteacher in Egypt has been sentenced to six years in prison for posting cartoons on Facebook deemed defamatory to Islam and for insulting President Mohamed Morsi and his family.
    • The Chicago Teachers Union strike is over—and the union’s strong-arming strategy prevailed. Heritage’s Lindsey Burke wraps up what the union won.
    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    14 Responses to Morning Bell: Obama Doesn't Just Gut Welfare Reform, He Turns It Upside Down

    1. Turner says:

      Since when has the American Dream been to live dependently on the backs of others by a government that will use its taxing power to steal for their little cronies? All cronyism has to go.

      • freethinker says:

        President Obama is Not removing the work requirement! There is accurate information on sites like Huffington Post.

    2. toledofan says:

      Well, one thing is for certain, we probably won't know all the damage Obama has done to America until he's out of office. It is really sad that we would elect a person hellbent on destroying America by ruining our economy, creating an abundant class dependant on government assistance , and weakening our security and allowing our power to be degraded. In the battle ground states, especialy my state , Ohio, I just can' understand why anyone, with any intelligence, would vote for this guy or his policies. It just doesn't make any sense.

    3. Hoyt Elrod says:

      Most Americans have known or strongly suspected for years that abuse & missuse ran rampant in Govt. Welfare Programs, as with essentially all Govt Programs. However, never has it been as bad as it it is now under this administration coupled with Liberal State Governments. Add to this the recent explosion in the SS Disability recepients ranks + Obamacare & you have the makings of a Perfect Storm leading to Socialism. Americans must be shaken out of their stupor & made to realize what is at stake in November for theirs & their successors futures….Freedom Lost..

    4. @maggieb6 says:

      I want to encourage you to see this movie..2016 .This is not about being a Republican or Democrat. Or if your not into the movie cause you think it is an Obama bash, then read the book the movie is an expose' of: Dreams From My Father, a book authored by the President.

      Upon completion of the book or the movie I belief that you will understand where the President wants this country to go and why his policies and decisions are what they are. It is pretty simple to see based on his background, his mentors and his association of the past.

      After viewing the movie, cause it takes way less time than reading the book, then vote your heart and conviction in November on where you want this Country to head in the future.

    5. Ben C. says:

      Hmmmm. Can you say Cloward – Piven?

    6. Albert says:

      hear is what you don"t see on the news shows and what people are unaware of!!!

    7. foxmuldar says:

      If those collecting a check no longer have to be working or even looking for work, don't they become part of the Millions that are no longer looking for work which we know is the real reason the unemployment number has been inching lower. Over 300,000 the last month stopped looking for work and Unemployment dropped to 8.1%. Of course thats a false number since the true number of unemployed is at least twice that amount. Add those who stopped looking for work and the estimates push the number up close to 20%. By dropping the work requirement, Obama kills two birds with one stone. First he gets more votes and second he lowers the unemployment rate if those collecting an unemployment check no longer have to even look for work. Isn't Socialism grand.

    8. Stan Gibson says:

      Help me understand why this cannot be appealed by a lawsuit???? Why can not this ruling by the Obama Administration be taken to the courts? Is it because Republicans don't want to do anything that makes them look bad until after the election.

    9. anonymous says:

      The TANF "work" requirements are unfortunately only effective for people who care and who are using government assistance as a last resort. Having participated previously in the JOBS program, it did help me to update skills and my resume and helped to cover chilcare while searching for a job. Many people, however showed up to check in, played on the computer briefly, went out for a smoke break, then they disappeared until it was time to check in for the afternoon session where the above was repeated. The 20 hours per week, from what I understand is based on having a less than school age child. As children get older the # of hours likewise increases.

      As long as there is welfare there will be those who will misuse it.

    10. Stephen McMahon says:

      Clinton has always been able to successfully garble up what are real issues. If you think this is bad see what nhe did with his urban renewal plln-the very real source of the sub prime mortgage mess.

    11. Stephen McMahon says:

      We need to do two things immediately….
      #1 Throw Illinois out of the union.

      #2 Convene a NATIONAL Constitutional Convention to coorect the many issues that have arisen as the result of Obama’s hare brained antics.

      Just remember please as Joseph DeMaistre once said “Every Country gets the Government it Deserves”. If you don’t vote, or vote responsibly, than we’re going to get what he wants, not what the people want.

    12. freethinker says:

      If you look into this further you will find out that Obama is Not eliminating the obligation to work. Check out Factcheck.org or Huffington Post or Center of Media & Democracy websites. You will get the True story.

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