Rush Limbaugh defended a Romney campaign ad that attacks President Obama for giving states more flexibility in overseeing federal welfare-to-work programs. But this policy change was reportedly sought by 29 Republican governors, including Romney.
In July, as the New York Times reported, the Obama administration announced “that it would grant states waivers to experiment with how they administer the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, which distributes aid to the poorest Americans while they look for work.” The Times continued: “The directive results from a broader effort by the Obama administration to peel back unnecessary layers of bureaucracy and allow states to spend federal money more efficiently.”
The article went on to state:
Of the five states that have so far expressed interest in receiving waivers, two of them, Utah and Nevada, have Republican governors. The other states are California, Connecticut and Minnesota, according to the Health and Human Services Department.
State support of waivers is not a new phenomenon. In 2005, 29 Republican governors, including Mr. Romney and Mr. Huckabee, asked Senator Bill Frist, the majority leader, for more “flexibility to manage their TANF programs and effectively serve low-income populations.”
“Increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work,” the letter read.
Today, the Romney campaign released a television ad condemning the Obama administration's decision. The ad claims that Obama “quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements” and promises, “Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works.”
But the New York Times pointed out:
Seven years ago, Mitt Romney joined other governors to urge the federal government to grant “increased waiver authority” to states to experiment with implementation of the federal welfare-to-work program.
But as he runs for president, Mr. Romney and his Republican allies are now accusing President Obama of “gutting” the welfare program by saying it will consider waivers to states.
Indeed, as governor of Massachusetts, Romney advocated for the same waiver option he is now decrying. In 2005, Romney joined 28 other Republicans governors to endorse “increased waiver authority” for TANF programs:
Despite this, Limbaugh played the ad during his radio program, agreeing with the Romney camp that “Obama unilaterally took the work requirements out of welfare.” He took issue with media criticism of this advertisement, asking:
LIMBAUGH: What in the world's outrageous about the ad you just heard? What's offensive about it? What allegation in it is below the belt? Where's the dirt? Where's the filth in that ad?
In a Fox News report this morning, correspondent Carl Cameron also adopted the Romney campaign's framing of the issue, repeating the campaign's talking point that the change is “just big-government liberalism putting more and more government dependency into the economic bloodstream.”