1998 Video supports Romney claim that Obama ‘quietly gutted’ welfare reform
posted at 3:56 pm on August 7, 2012 by Howard Portnoy
The White House has come out swinging at a Romney campaign ad that states that the Obama administration has “quietly gutted” welfare reform. The reference is to a July 12 memo from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) granting states waivers against enforcing certain provisions of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Program signed into law by President Bill Clinton.
As explained in a news release by the Senate Finance Committee, the effect of the HHS directive was to restore 2005 definitions of “federal work activity” that had been broadened to include bed rest, personal care activities, massage, motivational reading, smoking cessation, and participating in parent teacher meetings. “With unemployment remaining stuck over 8 percent,” the Finance Committee notes, “most Americans would not consider bed rest, smoking cessation classes and journaling as ‘work.’”
Which is precisely the point the Romney campaign was making in its ad, which concluded with the line “Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works.”
That hasn’t stopped White House press secretary Jay Carney from dismissing the criticisms in the ad as “categorically false,” “blatantly dishonest,” and an “utter misrepresentation” of the president’s policies. Obama spokeswoman Lis Smith chimes in as well in an email to The Hill:
The truth is that the President is giving states additional flexibility only if they move more people from welfare to work—not fewer. By falsely attacking a policy that both he and his Republican allies have supported for years, Romney is once again flip flopping on a position he took in Massachusetts, and demonstrating that he lacks the core strength and principles the nation needs in a President.
So Obama, Smith would have us believe, is a long-time supporter of the welfare reform law as drafted in 1996. If only there were video footage of Obama around this time in which he expressed his feelings about the law. As luck would have it, there is. Weasel Zippers provides a video capture from 1998 in which then-Illinois State Senator Barack Obama clearly shares his views.
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