The Obama administration today issued a waiver for work requirements under the 1996 welfare reform law, prompting the chairman of the conservative caucus in the House to accuse the president of “hurting the very people he claims to help.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sent an “information memorandum” to states this afternoon exercising waiver authority under the Social Security Act for the provision that “parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the [Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)] program engage in work activities.”
“HHS is encouraging states to consider new, more effective ways to meet the goals of TANF, particularly helping parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment,” the memo said, adding that the goal of the waiver is “to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”
“President Obama just tore up a basic foundation of the welfare contract,” said Republican Study Committee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-Ohio). “In exchange for taxpayer-funded TANF payments, the law calls on able-bodied adults to work, look for work, take classes, or undergo drug and alcohol counseling. It’s the tough love that gives people motivation to help themselves.”
Last year, the RSC introduced the Welfare Reform Act of 2011 to build upon the 1996 law including requiring able-bodied adult beneficiaries of food stamps to work or prepare for a job and full disclosure of welfare spending.
“By waiving the law’s requirements, President Obama will make it harder for Americans to escape poverty. He is hurting the very people he claims to help,” Jordan added of today’s move.
“Today’s action is also a blatant violation of the law. After immigration, education, marriage, and religious conscience protections, we can now add welfare reform to the list of laws President Obama refuses to follow.”