Thursday, July 19, 2012

Obama v. Welfare Reform: Destroying What Works

A poll this month by The Hill found that while two-thirds of Americans believe Obama has indeed transformed America, 56% of those voters believe Obama changed the country in a negative way. Only 35% believe he changed the country for the better. And if you want an example of the types of things Obama has done to generate this kind of animosity, consider what he’s doing to welfare reform.

For decades, the Republicans pushed the idea of welfare reform. Specifically, they wanted to encourage people to get off welfare and start working. The Democrats, however, flat out refused to allow any attempt to make such a change. Indeed, any time the issue came up, they would whine that the Republicans were looking to throw single mothers and their children out into the streets to starve.

In 1994, the Republicans finally got control over the Congress for the first time since 1952. Along with a Republican Senate and a weakened and unprincipled Bill Clinton in the White House, they set out to change America. One area they targeted was welfare reform. To that end, in 1996, they passed the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996. This fundamentally changed the way welfare works in America by:
● Ending welfare as an entitlement,
● Placing a lifetime limit of five years on benefits paid from federal funds,
● Requiring recipients to begin working after two years of benefits,
● Encouraging two-parent families, and
● Enhancing enforcement of child support.
This bill also gave the states vast discretion in how to achieve these rules. Clinton signed this bill after vetoing the first two attempts. And while liberals hated the reform at the time, it’s now been recognized as a significant success, having cut the number of welfare cases by 53% and reversing an unabated upward trend which began in the 1960. Clinton even claims it as one of his biggest achievements.

So guess what Obama wants to do now? Obama has started handing out waivers to states to eliminate the work requirements contained in the bill. Unbelievable. He is attacking a bill which everyone except the extreme left admits worked magnificently. And in a perverse bit of reasoning, Team Obama claims this change is intended to help parents “successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment.” So by eliminating the requirement that people find work, we are helping them prepare to find work. Huh?

Fortunately, the Republicans aren’t sitting still for this. Romney said on Friday:
“The success of bipartisan welfare reform, passed under President Clinton, has rested on the obligation of work. The president’s action is completely misdirected. Work is a dignified endeavor, and the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life.”
Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan charged that, “President Obama will make it harder for Americans to escape poverty. He is hurting the very people he claims to help.” Others are calling this “a blatant violation of the law.” Rep. Dave Camp called this move “a brazen and unwarranted unraveling” of the law that “ends welfare reform as we know it.” And Rep. Tim Scott of South Carolina said,
“You don’t improve people’s lives with handouts, you improve people’s lives by showing them, as I learned growing up in the inner city in a single parent household, that you can think and work your way out of poverty.”
It’s amazing how Obama keeps trying to refight the battles the left lost in the past and how he doesn’t care that history has proven his side wrong. It’s even more amazing how ready he is to trap a whole new generation on welfare. But keep in mind, there is method here. As we’ve discussed before, almost 50% of Americans now draw their living from government benefits in some form. These people are much more likely to vote Democratic because that is the party who promises to keep the spigot flowing. This weakening of welfare reform is nothing more than an attempt by Obama to add more people to the government dole, much like Obamacare was an attempt to increase the number of people on Medicaid and to hook the middle class on health care subsidies. Obama is trying to snare people into government dependence.

This needs to end.

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