Obama undermines signature act of Clinton administrationby tcguestblogger on Jul. 25, 2012, under Uncategorized
As a centrist Democrat I take pride in the welfare reform act of 1996, a hallmark of the Clinton administration that simply requires able-bodied adults to work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving welfare.
The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996, enacted as a result of collaborative efforts of President Bill Clinton and Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, replaced the old Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC) with a new program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). The core of this new law was the creation of rigorous federal work standards that state governments were required to implement.
Over the first four years following enactment of this highly successful legislation, aggregate welfare caseloads across the nation dropped by nearly half. Employment surged and child poverty plummeted as millions of former welfare recipients experienced the pride of gainful employment.
On Thursday, July 12 the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services issued a policy directive that effectively guts the federal work requirements that were the foundations of the welfare reform law.
Commenting on this action, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich states “Obama’s suspension of workfare requirements is almost certainly illegal, a sign of the jobs failure…”, adding that “President Clinton and … Congress created a bipartisan work oriented reform of welfare – Obama has single handedly destroyed it”. Bill Clinton has not as yet issued public comment, as he was effectively “muzzled” as a pre-condition of Obama’s appointing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. Rep. Dave Camp, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Sen. Orrin Hatch, a ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, have written to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius asking for a more detailed explanation of the change – and her authority for issuing this directive.
As an author/political-social commentator, I take offense at this arrogant action on the part of an administration that is desperately attempting to shore up support among targeted voting blocks.
How does this affect my posture as a voter in November’s presidential election? At this point I will probably vote for Obama, with great reluctance. As a public health professional I am singularly impressed by his passage of the Affordable (Health) Care Act, which contains many positive provisions. I firmly believe that we cannot afford to place someone in office whose stated intent is to repeal this law, rather than orchestrating efforts to fix its flaws and build upon its strengths.
Returning to the welfare reform issue, as a Tucsonan, I am appalled that our community’s mainstream print media has chosen to ignore our President’s irresponsible and self-serving efforts to undermine a key accomplishment of the Clinton administration.
Suggested Action: Google “Obama guts welfare reform legislation” for further information and write/call or visit your Congress-person, expressing your outrage at our President’s efforts to water down the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act of 1996.
Dr. John Newport is a Tucson-based author, speaker and commentator. He has published four books and over 200 articles focusing on personal and societal wellness, self-help and social/political commentary. He frequently contributes letters and opinion pieces addressing pressing social issues to the Arizona Daily Star, Los Angeles Times, Seattle Times, The Therapist and other publications. His most recent book The Tucson Tragedy: Lessons from the Senseless Shooting of Gabrielle Giffords, was released in August, 2011.