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Clinton’s credit for these reforms, of course, is somewhat disingenuous. A Republican landslide in the 1994 election gave them control of Congress for the first time in 40 years, putting the former president in a tenuous position. He chose to adapt, and the 1996 welfare reform act was the epitome of such adaptation. Barack Obama, on the other hand, didn’t let the drubbing his party took in the 2010 election faze him. He has chosen to ignore that mandate and force-feed his leftist ideology to the American public, even if it takes executive orders, or Cabinet level-decrees bypassing Congress, to do so.
Bill Clinton sought to triangulate. Obama’s strategy is far more thuggish: my administration will do whatever we want, and we dare someone to stop us. “We had been attempting to highlight the inability of Congress to do anything,” former White House chief of staff William M. Daley said last April. “The president expressed frustration, saying we have got to scour everything and push the envelope in finding things we can do on our own.”
Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI), chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, and one of the original authors of the reform bill, called this strategy “a brazen and unwarranted unraveling” of the law that “ends welfare reform as we know it.” Orrin Hatch (R-UT) also expressed his displeasure. ”I’m disappointed that after years of sitting on their hands and failing to propose any significant improvements to the TANF programs, the Obama Administration is once again over-stepping their authority and attempting to circumvent Congress through an unprecedented bypass of the legislative process,” he said. Both men have written a letter to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius requesting a “detailed explanation of your Department’s legal reasoning behind the guidance,” and noting that the authority to waive the work requirements in the TANF program is an authority “not asserted by any other Secretary in the 16 years since the TANF program began.”
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney offered his take on the change as well. ”President Obama now wants to strip the established work requirements from welfare,” he said, further noting that “the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life.”
No doubt it is — just as there is virtually no doubt the president is trying to break that linkage for naked political gain. Much like last week’s revelation that the Department of Agriculture was actively soliciting Spanish-speaking people to join the food stamp program (a gambit they dropped after an expose by the Daily Caller) this move smacks of nothing more than the latest effort to increase the size of the dependency class that Democrats consider essential to their political well-being. Progressive ideology would already be consigned to the ash heap of history were it not for the overt effort of its adherents to convince substantial numbers of Americans that their dependency on the state is nothing more than an integral component of “social justice.”
The administration claims that the “new steps we have taken will give states more flexibility in how they operate the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program,” as George Sheldon, acting assistant secretary for the Administration for Children and Families contends. Yet there is no ignoring the reality that such flexibility is being implemented by decree. It reveals the utter bankruptcy of an administration that knows it can’t get Congress to implement its ideologically suspect agenda. Thus, their “solution” for congressional intransigence is reduced to three words: Congress be damned.
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