The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

New Romney Ad Hits Obama on Welfare Work Requirements


Mitt Romney’s campaign is going after Obama on his changes to the 1996 welfare reform act’s work requirements… and probably, in the process, complicating Bill Clinton’s high-profile role in the Democratic convention:

Perhaps the Obama defense for this will be, “look, there are almost 13 million unemployed, 8.2 million working part-time who want full-time work, and 2.5 million marginally attached to the labor force and 852,000 discouraged workers … if no one else is working, why should we expect welfare recipients to do so?”

The ad facts below the fold:

AD FACTS: Script For “Right Choice” VOICEOVER: “In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it.” VIDEO TEXT: “1996 Welfare Reform: ‘Unprecedented Success’” 

·          The Washington Post Headline: “Welfare Reform’s Unprecedented Success” (Bill Archer, “Welfare Reform’s Unprecedented Success,” The Washington Post, 8/10/98)

 VOICEOVER: “By requiring work for welfare.” VIDEO TEXT: “Clinton’s Plan: Requiring Work For Welfare” 

·         Former President Bill Clinton Said The Law Included “Firm, But Fair Work Requirements.” “Today, I have signed into law H.R. 3734, the ‘Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996’…Most important, this Act is tough on work. Not only does it include firm but fair work requirements, it provides $4 billion more in child care than the vetoed bills—so that parents can end their dependency on welfare and go to work—and maintains health and safety standards for day care providers.” (President Bill Clinton, Statement, 8/22/96)


VOICEOVER: “But on July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.” VIDEO TEXT: “Obama Guts Welfare Reform” 

·         The Heritage Foundation Headline: “Obama Guts Welfare Reform” (Robert Rector and Kiki Bradley, “Obama Guts Welfare Reform,” The Heritage Foundation, 7/12/12)


·         The Associated Press Headline: “Obama Administration Opens The Door For States To Seek Major Changes In Welfare-To-Work Law”(Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar, “Obama Administration Opens The Door For States To Seek Major Changes In Welfare-To-Work Law,” The Associated Press, 7/13/12)

 VIDEO TEXT: “Obama Drops Work Requirements” ·         Obama Administration Department Of Health And Human Services: “HHS Has Authority To Waive Compliance … And Authorize A State To Test Approaches And Methods Other Than Those Set Forth In Section 407 [Work Requirements].” “While the TANF work participation requirements are contained in section 407, section 402(a)(1)(A)(iii) requires that the state plan ‘[e]nsure that parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities in accordance with section 407.’  Thus, HHS has authority to waive compliance with this 402 requirement and authorize a state to test approaches and methods other than those set forth in section 407, including definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures, and the calculation of participation rates.” (Information Memorandum, “Guidance Concerning Waiver And Expenditure Authority Under Section 1115,” Department Of Health And Human Services, 7/12/12) VOICEOVER: “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.” VIDEO TEXT: “Obama’s Plan: You Wouldn’t Have To Work” VIDEO TEXT: “Obama’s Plan: Wouldn’t Have To Train For A Job” VIDEO TEXT: “They Just Send You Your Welfare Check” ·         Obama Administration Department Of Health And Human Services: “Negotiated Employment Outcomes In Lieu Of Participation Rate Requirements … Alternative Approach To Measuring Participation … Comprehensive Universal Engagement System In Lieu Of Certain Participation Requirements.” “The following are examples of projects that states may want to consider – these are illustrative only: Projects that improve coordination with other components of the workforce investment system, including programs operated under the Workforce Investment Act, or to test an innovative approach to use performance-based contracts and management in order to improve employment outcomes; Projects that demonstrate attainment of superior employment outcomes if a state is held accountable for negotiated employment outcomes in lieu of participation rate requirements; Projects under which a state would count individuals in TANF-subsidized jobs but no longer receiving TANF assistance toward participation rates for a specified period of time in conjunction with an evaluation of the effectiveness of a subsidized jobs strategy; Projects that improve collaboration with the workforce and/or post-secondary education systems to test multi-year career pathways models for TANF recipients that combine learning and work; Projects that demonstrate strategies for more effectively serving individuals with disabilities, along with an alternative approach to measuring participation and outcomes for individuals with disabilities; Projects that test the impact of a comprehensive universal engagement system in lieu of certain participation rate requirements; Projects that test systematically extending the period in which vocational educational training or job search/readiness programs count toward participation rates, either generally or for particular subgroups, such as an extended training period for those pursuing a credential.  The purpose of such a waiver would be to determine through evaluation whether a program that allows for longer periods in certain activities improves employment outcomes.” (Information Memorandum, “Guidance Concerning Waiver And Expenditure Authority Under Section 1115,” Department Of Health And Human Services, 7/12/12) VOICEOVER: “And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare.” VIDEO TEXT: “Welfare To Work” VIDEO TEXT: “Welfare”

·         Brookings Institution’s Ron Haskins: “Emphasis On Work, Time Limits, And Sanctions Against States That Did Not Place A Large Fraction Of Its Caseload In Work Programs … Was A Historic Reversal Of The Entitlement Welfare Represented By AFDC.” “The most important reform was the replacement of the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) program with the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. The research on TANF yields a coherent picture that will almost certainly stand the test of time. With its emphasis on work, time limits, and sanctions against states that did not place a large fraction of its caseload in work programs and against individuals who refused to meet state work requirements, TANF was a historic reversal of the entitlement welfare represented by AFDC.” (Ron Haskins, “The Outcomes Of 1996 Welfare Reform, Testimony, House Committee On Ways And Means, 7/19/06)

 VIDEO TEXT: “Romney’s Plan: Work For Welfare” VOICEOVER: “Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works.” MITT ROMNEY: “I’m Mitt Romney and I approve this message.”

Tags: Barack Obama , Mitt Romney , Welfare


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