Bill Clinton promised welfare reform when he ran in 1992. He delivered in 1996. Now Obama has gutted it.
But wasn’t the law a law? How can he overturn it? Be redefining it. The Heritage Foundation reports.
Today, the Obama Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released an official policy directive rewriting the welfare reform law of 1996. The new policy guts the federal work requirements that were the foundation of the reform law. The Obama directive bludgeons the letter and intent of the actual reform legislation.
Under the old system of aid to Families with Dependent Children, there was no requirement for adults to work. Clinton changed this. The Clinton program is called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). At the heart of the new law was “the creation of rigorous new federal work standards that state governments were required to implement.”
The welfare reform law was very successful. In the four decades prior to welfare reform, the welfare caseload never experienced a significant decline. But, in the four years after welfare reform, the caseload dropped by nearly half. Employment surged and child poverty among affected groups plummeted. The driving force behind these improvements was the rigorous new federal work requirements contained in the TANF law.
That was then. This is now.
Today the Obama Administration issued a new directive stating that the traditional TANF work requirements can be waived or overridden by a legal device called the section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315).
Through a technical trick, Obama has killed Clinton’s reform.
The process is arcane. It deliberately overcomes Congress’s desire in 1996.
The results will be clear, and very soon: the welfare rolls will grow. States will have to pay more to welfare mothers. The mothers will not have to seek jobs.
It’s fat city once again.
It’s “tax the employed” once again.
Children are now a source on additional income once again.
Welfare as we knew it before 1996 is back in the saddle again.
The one positive thing that Bill Clinton did is now history.