Obama Guts Welfare Reform With Executive Order
One of the real policy successes of the 1990′s, something both Republicans and former President Bill Clinton (though he first vetoed reforms twice) take credit for, is welfare reform that put an emphasis on urging a return to work and self-sufficiency. Specifically, the reforms tied welfare support to certain return to work requirements that, in turn, were protected by Congress from being waived by federal bureaucrats at the Department of Health and Human Services.
But now, with an executive order, President Obama has dismissed that restriction on waivers opening the door for welfare recipients getting benefits without an expectation that they return to work:
Welfare reform replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children with a new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The Heritage Foundation played a pivotal role in building bipartisan consensus for the reform and providing many of the recommendations that became part of the law. The whole point was that able-bodied adults should be required to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare aid.
This reform was very successful. TANF became the only welfare program (out of more than 70) that promoted greater self-reliance. It moved 2.8 million families off the welfare rolls and into jobs so that they were providing for themselves. Child poverty fell, and single-parent employment rose. Recipients were required to perform at least 20–30 hours per week of work or job preparation activities in exchange for the cash benefit.
Now, Obama’s HHS is claiming that it can waive those work requirements that are at the heart of the law, and without Congress’s consent.
When it established TANF, Congress deliberately exempted or shielded nearly all of the TANF program from waiver authority. They explicitly did not want the law to be rewritten at the whim of HHS bureaucrats. In a December 2001, the non-partisan Congressional Research Service clarified that there was no authority to override work and other major requirements: “Effectively, there are no TANF waivers,” it reported.
But that did not stop the Obama Administration, which has been increasing welfare spending at an alarming rate already.
In effect, President Obama has re-written the law without bothering to get the approval of Congress. Not only is that an abuse of executive power, it results in more social policy that promotes government dependence instead of self-sufficiency.
I’m not sure there is any more fundamental measure for the success or failure of government social policy than the number of people who are on the government dole. Under President Obama, whether we’re talking about food stamps or other programs, government dependence has exploded.
Obama, and his fellow Democrats, not only don’t seem troubled by this they seem to want to actively promote it.Tags: Barack Obama, bill clinton, welfare