Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: Welfare Waivers Will Move More People from Welfare to Work, Not Less
Press Release

RELEASE: Welfare Waivers Will Move More People from Welfare to Work, Not Less

Press Contacts

  • Madeline Meth

Read “3 Reasons Why Republican Governors Asked to Reform Their Welfare Programs.

Washington, D.C. — As he made the case for President Barack Obama’s reelection last night, President Bill Clinton unpacked the reality of Gov. Mitt Romney’s false charge that President Obama wants to weaken work requirements, and today the Center for American Progress Action Fund released an analysis of the truth behind President Obama’s decision to give governors the freedom to explore new ways to put people back to work.

For weeks, Gov. Romney, the Republican presidential nominee, has knowingly misled the American people about President Obama “gutting welfare reform” in a series of false TV ads that have been awarded the maximum Pinocchio status from nonpartisan fact-checkers. The waivers President Obama has granted at the requests of Democratic and Republican governors  are patently not about “taking the work out of welfare,” but rather are clearly part of the bipartisan tradition of letting states be the laboratories for policy reform. Instead, as President Clinton explained to the convention audience last night, the administration granted waivers to governors who had proposed credible plans to increase employment by 20 percent. As President Clinton explained to the convention audience last night, the Obama administration has emphasized that the waivers are to move more people from welfare to work, not less.

Republican and Democratic governors alike have asked for this kind of waiver authority to improve the strategies and metrics that connect more families relying on temporary income assistance to sustainable employment. The commonsense reasons why these waivers were requested include:

  • Many states were understandably unable to meet their work-participation rate targets during the Great Recession because jobs were scarce
  • “Work” is defined so narrowly in federal law that states often dissuade low-income Americans in need of work from activities that could help in the long term
  • The work-participation rate doesn’t address the multiple barriers to work faced by the breadwinners of many poor families

President Clinton, who signed the bill that “ended welfare as we know it,” said it best last night: “The claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not true.” In granting the waiver authority, President Obama was responding to bipartisan consensus that we need to think about measuring progress in ways that are more reflective of poor families’ employment outcomes when they are forced to turn to temporary income assistance. The Obama administration’s policy is to strengthen work requirements, giving states more space to innovate with approaches that move a higher share of workers in need of temporary income assistance into sustainable employment.

To speak to CAP Action experts, please contact Madeline Meth at mmeth@americanprogressaction.org or 202.741.6277.

Read “3 Reasons Why Republican Governors Asked to Reform Their Welfare Programs.”

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