Obama administration undermining work requirements for welfare recipients

Yesterday, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance" to states that could undermine the work requirements introduced in the 1996 welfare reform. The HHS guidance explains how states can seek "waivers" of work requirements for recipients of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)program. But there has been no change in the TANF law, no proposal from the Obama administration to change policy, and no basis in statute for the changes.

The House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Senate Finance Committee ranking member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have sent a letter to HHS Secretary Sebelius seeking an explanation for what appears to me to be a lawless power grab. Rep. Camp summed it up: "This is a brazen and unwarranted unraveling of welfare reform.  This ends welfare reform as we know it."

There can be no mistake now: the Obama administration is seeking to create a permanent majority of Americans receiving money from taxpaying, working Americans. Food stamps are hyped through advertising, work requirements are being sabotaged (contrary to law),  unemployment insurance extended for years.

If you work hard, pay taxes, and obey the law, you are a target. If you give up, call yourself a victim, and demand money that other people earned, you are part of the new dependant majority that will keep Democrats in power forever, or so they must hope.  

Update: Mickey Kaus has a long and clear explanation of the changes, and gets to the politics of the matter:

Obama's given his opponents a huge opportunity to raise the "welfare" issue, to associate him with the unpopular idea of subsidizing women who have children they can't support, usually out of wedlock-even giving them free community college training that hard-working people who don't go on welfare can't get! The GOPs don't even have to move their heads into the 21st century by calling Obama the "food stamp President." They can dust off their attacks on the old, hated AFDC program-the welfare part of the welfare state.

What's the payoff for Obama ? When he took executive action to effectively impose the DREAM law that Congress wouldn't pass, he was trying to mobilize a large, reliably Democratic constituency-Latinos. Cynical, maybe, but rational. What does he get for this move, in exchange for possibly getting hammered by the Republicans (and by some endangered Democrats)? Who supports it? Well, community colleges surely support it-they're a powerful lobby, and they'll get lots of subsidized students-on-welfare. Unions support it-they want public aid recipients to stay on the dole, or in training, lest they join the work force and compete for jobs. They especially don't want them performing public "workfare" tasks that well-compensated, pensioned AFSCME workers might be performing.


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