Remember in “Seinfeld” when George Costanza got a new job and his employer thought he had a physical disability? He loved the benefits and attention, so he fully committed himself to the lie – and intended to keep it up indefinitely.
The episode reminds me a bit of how Republicans treat their 2012 welfare reform lie.
As you’ll recall, a bipartisan group of governors asked the Obama administration for some flexibility on the existing welfare law, transitioning beneficiaries from welfare to work. The White House agreed to give the states some leeway, so long as the work requirement wasn’t weakened. It inspired Mitt Romney and GOP leaders to make up a shameless lie, accusing President Obama of weakening welfare work requirements.
The blatant falsehood didn’t make much of a difference, and I assumed the issue would disappear once the election ended. But like George Costanza, Republicans have become so invested in the lie, they’re afraid to let it go.
Prominent House Republicans are relaunching efforts to stop the Obama administration from giving states waivers under welfare reform.
GOP leaders of several committees reintroduced a bill Thursday that would block the policy, which Republicans say “guts” welfare’s work requirement.
“This legislation makes it clear – the Obama administration cannot undermine the work requirement that has resulted in higher earnings and employment for low-income individuals,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) in a statement.
That the Obama administration never undermined the work requirement – and has no intention of doing so in the future – apparently doesn’t matter. What’s necessary, apparently, is to keep the lie alive, even after it’s been exposed as untrue.
Yesterday, the White House criticized the House GOP bill, which has 23 cosponsors, as standing in the way “innovative” state-based programs that could help more welfare recipients into new jobs. The administration called the bill “unnecessary.”
Which it is, though that doesn’t seem to matter.