Walking Back the Welfare Waiver Fact-Checks

by Jonathan H. Adler

Buried in Glenn Kessler’s quick-reaction “fact-check” of Bill Clinton’s speech is a brief-yet-interesting discussion of the Obama Administration’s new policy on welfare waivers: 


We have written previously how the Romney campaign is exaggerating the immediate effect of the change in welfare rules, while at the same time it appears clear the Obama administration issued this notice without much consultation with Republicans in Congress. Something fishy may be going on.

The subject is worthy of a longer fact check in the future, but it is worth noting that prominent critics of the shift have raised interesting questions about this supposed 20-percent requirement. Clinton used this figure as a defense of the administration’s move, but there may be less to this than meets the eye.

It appears Kessler is acknowledging that he and other “fact-checkers” may have been too quick to swallow the Administration’s characterization of the new welfare waiver policy.  As Robert Rector explained, under the new policy states could, in fact, obtain waivers for policies that would enable them to “issue welfare checks to people who do not work.”  Yet Kessler awarded this claim four “Pinnochios.” Further, a new memorandum from the Government Accountability Office rejects the administration’s claim that the waiver memo was nothing more than a non-binding guidance document.

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