Romney’s welfare attack is both false and hypocritical


Mitt Romney’s latest attack, an effort to capitalize on conservative resentment of those on government assistance, falsely accuses President Obama of dropping work requirements for welfare recipients. And it doesn’t mention that Romney himself supported doing something similar as governor of Massachusetts.

“On July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements,” a new ad from the Romney campaign tells voters.  “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.” (You can watch the ad above.)

Romney followed that up Tuesday by taking the attack to the campaign trail. TPM reports that after praising welfare reform at an event in Illinois, he declared: “President Obama has tried to reverse that accomplishment by taking the work out of welfare.”

This is a lie. Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services did indeed announce a policy shift which lets states “test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.” But HHS made very clear that states must show their approach is better at moving people from welfare to work.

“HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF,” the department wrote in announcing the move.

If a state proposed a system in which “they just send you your welfare check,” it clearly wouldn’t be approved.

Even if it weren’t false, the Romney attack would still be stunningly hypocritical. Back in 2005, Romney joined other GOP governors in urging Congress  (pdf) to grant states exactly this kind of flexibility in meeting the goals of welfare reform. 

“Increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work,” Romney and his fellow governors wrote.

The ad is the second demonstrably false attack to come from Team Romney in the last three days. Over the weekend, the campaign charged that a lawsuit filed in Ohio by the Obama campaign aimed to “undermine” voting rights for members of the military. In fact, the lawsuit asked a judge to restore extended early voting for all citizens, after Republicans last year changed the law so that it applied only to those in the military. Should the lawsuit succeed, military voters would be unaffected.

Late Update, 2:58pm: White House press secretary Jay Carney slammed Romney’s welfare attack as “categorically false” and “blatantly dishonest.”

Late Late Update, 5:05pm: And the Obama campaign, echoing Lean Forward, called the attack “hypocritical and false.”