Seeking to revive a channel of attack on President Obama, Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign launched a new ad Tuesday attacking the President for ending “welfare to work” provisions enacted under former U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Republicans first criticized the President in July when it was first announced that the work requirement would be eliminated, and has been brought back for these ads, presumably feeding off of negative public sentiment of welfare in general.
“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,” the narrator of the ad says. “And welfare-to-work goes back to being plain old welfare.”
Titled “Right Choice,” the 30-second clip portrays Romney as an ardent supporter of welfare reform enacted under Clinton.
The Romney campaign declined to disclose where the ad is running or for how long. With Romney relatively absent from PA airtime at this point in the presidential election cycle, it’s unlikely the ad will air here in the same capacity as other potential swing states.
Lis Smith, a campaign spokesperson from the Obama campaign, called Romney’s latest ad “untrue and hypocritical,” and said the President’s plan has bipartisan support nationwide.
“The Obama administration, working with the Republican governors of states like Nevada and Utah, is giving states additional flexibility only if they move more people from welfare to work – not fewer,” Smith said in a campaign press release.
“But as governor, Mitt Romney petitioned the federal government for waivers that would have let people stay on welfare for an indefinite period, ending welfare reform as we know it, and even created a program that handed out free cars to welfare recipients.”
The “plan” of Obama’s mentioned in the ad is a proposal that gives states more latitude in terms of meeting welfare-to-work requirements outlined in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 by allowing states to seek waivers.
When Clinton signed the bill into law, it was widely considered a major domestic policy achievement by Republicans and Democrats. While the new standards don’t excuse states from meeting welfare-to-work requirements, they do open the door for creative interpretations of the law.
But surprisingly, Republican and Democratic governors – including Romney, when he served as Governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007 – have in the past supported more leeway in meeting federal welfare-to-work requirements.
Romney said in a press release that welfare-to-work was an effective part of the program because it eliminated the culture of dependency that was beginning to grow in the country. He said that during his time as Governor he vetoed efforts by the Massachusetts legislature to remove the work requirements.
“If I’m president I will put work back in welfare…I very much agree that those who are seriously disabled or are unable to work need to have the help of the rest of us,” he said. “But those who can work ought to have the opportunity for a good job and if they are getting state assistance they ought to have the requirement for a good job.”
Obama administration officials said the new welfare-to-work requirements are in response to state officials who claimed the standards of Clinton’s welfare reform are often too rigid and also make it difficult to place welfare recipients in jobs.