Fact Check: Romney Ad Bashes Obama Over Welfare Waivers

By Steve Kanigher

Published 08/08 2012 06:37PM

Updated 05/25 2015 01:00AM

Claim: A new advertisement endorsed by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney that is airing on KLAS-TV Channel 8 states: "In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it by requiring work for welfare but on July 12th President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama's plan you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check and welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare."

Verdict: Misleading because it leaps to conclusions regarding a July 12 memorandum from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to states that receive federal funds to administer the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. The stated intent of the memo was to encourage states to consider better ways to meet TANF's goals, "particularly helping parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment." States were therefore informed that they could apply for waivers from existing federal welfare laws to develop their own "definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures, and the calculation of participation rates." The Heritage Foundation, a Washington, D.C., think tank that advocates limited government and was the source of the ad, concluded that this would gut welfare reform because "traditional TANF work requirements can be waived or overridden." The ad itself concluded that a TANF recipient wouldn't have to work or train for a job. But this conclusion doesn't jibe with the department's caveat that it will only approve state waivers "intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF." The ad assumes, prematurely, that the department will ignore its own caveat and simply allow states to hand out welfare checks with no strings attached.

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