My new Bloomberg View column is on Kathleen Sebelius’s claim that she can waive work requirements for state welfare programs:
Until now, nobody has ever thought that the executive branch has this power. Sebelius has noted that in 2005, a lot of Republican governors — including one Mitt Romney of Massachusetts — signed a letter saying they wanted more flexibility in administering welfare dollars. They wanted the HHS to have “increased waiver authority.” That’s true.
But as useful as that history is for an administration seeking political cover, it undermines its legal claim. The Republicans were seeking congressional action to give HHS that extra authority. That’s why the letter was addressed to Bill Frist, who was Senate majority leader at the time. They didn’t get what they wanted.