After sustaining a largely unanswered barrage of attacks throughout the summer from President Obama’s campaign, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has stepped it up. Today the campaign fired back with a new ad criticizing the President’s history with “welfare to work” policy.
“On July 12th, Obama quietly ended work requirements for welfare,” the narrator of the ad says. “You wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job.”
Titled “Long History,” the 31-second clip contrasts Obama’s recent policy change with Romney’s welfare reform plan, with the GOP candidate saying he believes a welfare-to-work program generates a stronger middle class.
The campaign wouldn’t disclose where the ad is airing, citing campaign policy.
For Romney, Obama’s move to waive certain welfare requirements for states has translated into an effective rhetorical device against the President – especially considering the polarizing nature of welfare with many viewing the program negatively.
But the validity of the claims made by Romney and the ad have come under question.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Obama’s July mandate waived a requirement under former U.S. President Bill Clinton’s heralded 1996 welfare reform law that required states to log hours that welfare recipients spent working or volunteering to find employment.
If states didn’t meet the targeted number of hours, they risked losing federal funding.
Rather than exempting states from the requirements, Obama’s mandate now requires that state officials articulate their own work programs. And in order to receive the waiver, governors must pledge to increase the number of recipients moving from welfare to work by 20 percent.
In fact, Republican and Democratic governors alike have asked for more flexibility in meeting the welfare-to-work requirements – including Romney, who joined other governors in urging the federal government to alter the work requirements of the welfare law in 2005.
Conservative groups like The Heritage Foundation have argued the opposite – that Obama’s mandate effectively removes the core of Clinton’s law, allowing state officials to rewrite it at will.
With the economy and unemployment as hot-button issues, the Romney campaign’s new ad and the welfare-to-work debate is sure to be an issue as the weather cools down and election season heats up.