Obama Administration Waives Welfare Work Requirement
Bert Atkinson Jr. | On 20, Jul 2012
In case you haven’t heard, Obama’s U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced on July 12 that it would grant waiver authority for the work requirements detailed in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. Since the law was passed by the Clinton administration in 1996, welfare recipients required those able to work to either work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare. This new Obama announcement essentially allows states to make the decisions to waive that requirement.
According to the Heritage Foundation, “in the past, state bureaucrats have attempted to define activities such as hula dancing, attending Weight Watchers, and bed rest as ‘work.’ These dodges were blocked by the federal work standards. Now that the Obama Administration has abolished those standards, we can expect “work” in the TANF program to mean anything but ‘work.’”
If you check out the Heritage Foundation’s graphic below, you can see how well the TANF work requirements have worked. “Within just a few years of TANF’s implementation, however, the number of caseloads was cut in half, and employment rates and earnings among the poor increased. Nearly 3 million families left welfare for work,” their release states.
In response, Senator Orrin Hatch (R – Utah) introduced a bill on Wednesday to address the issue. “I’m introducing this bill because the Obama administration grossly underminded the constitutional authority of the legislative branch to affect changes to settled law.”
White House press secretary Jay Carney said the changes “are designed to accelerate job placement by moving more Americans from welfare to work as quickly as possible.”
Many critics of the Republican critics point to a 2002 letter to President Bush from Republican Governors, including Mitt Romney, that asked for more flexibility.
So what argument do I have for that? That was 2002, and this is 2012. If you haven’t changed your mind about some issues in a decade, you aren’t human. In 2002, we didn’t have the ‘Food Stamp’ President trying to run running the country. Since 2008, food stamp spending has more than doubled.
America can’t afford to waive the work requirements right now. This is not to say that welfare is bad – it helps many who need it, but it also helps many who don’t need it, and this move by President Obama gives people an incentive to find a way around working without fear of having their welfare taken away.
You’re exercising on a daily basis to eventually become an aerobics instructor? Under Obama’s new stance – take as much time as you need to get in shape, as long as you have mildly convincing goal or plan you can state to your local welfare office, he’ll keep paying you. (This is obviously an example, but if you can’t draw the line somewhere, holes in the new plan will be exposed as they always are.)
Humans are driven by incentive. Show a person a $20 dollar bill and tell them they will have to clap their hands 20 times for that money, and virtually everyone will do it. If one is paid to do nothing, it would be an irrational decision to start working.
The Obama administration needs to rethink this one. On second thought, let’s just vote them out…the more time they have to think the worse this gets.