Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who was instrumental in passing welfare reform in the 1990s, blasted President Obama’s attempt to gut the law in a conference call on Wednesday.
“Hard-core liberals like Barack Obama were deeply opposed to the bill,” Gingrich said, referring to the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996, which fundamentally altered the nation’s largest cash assistance welfare program.
Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services recently announced that it would allow states to waive the law’s work requirements–the key to the reform’s success–which requires that recipients of Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF) benefits work or prepare for work in order to receive welfare assistance.
As noted by Heritage’s Robert Rector, who broke the story, the law’s work requirements were explicitly exempted from HHS’s authority to waive requirements in various laws. But the administration has proceeded apace with its violation of the law.
Gingrich attributed the move to “an unending desire to create a dependentAmerica” by administration officials who “are even more radical” than the president himself, specifically noting HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
“Most people agree today that this has been the most successful conservative reform in modern times,” Gingrich said of the welfare reform effort. Indeed, as Rector notes in a column for National Review, the American public overwhelmingly supports TANF’s work requirement – 83% in favor and only 7% opposed, according to a recent Rasmussen survey.
“Obama’s goal,” Rector writes, “is to ‘spread the wealth’ by massively increasing the welfare state.”