Elections 2012: New Romney Ad Accuses Obama of ‘Gutting Welfare Reform’ [Video]

Mitt Romney has released a new television ad accusing President Barack Obama of “gutting welfare reform.”

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign released a new television ad on Tuesday bashing President Barack Obama for implementing a welfare policy that the Republican presidential contender supported when he was governor of Massachusetts.

The ad is part of a new Romney campaign push focused on welfare, part of an ongoing effort to paint Obama as a big-government liberal out of step with former president Bill Clinton.

“In 1996, President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it,” the narrator says. “But on July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.”

“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check,”  the ad concludes.

According to The Huff Post, welfare, formally known as the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, is administered by states within federal rules.

Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services invited states to apply for waivers from some rules in order to run “demonstration projects” so that states could “consider new, more effective ways to meet the goals of TANF, particularly helping parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment.”

Meanwhile, the Obama campaign says that Romney is twisting the facts. President Obama says he’s giving states the flexibility they’ve asked for to make welfare more efficient. And Mitt Romney is among several Republican governors who signed a letter back in 2005 asking for more “waiver authority.”

Romney’s ad doesn’t also mention that Republican states sought the waiver policy. For instance, in a release defending its waiver request from conservative backlash last month, the office of Utah Gov. Richard Herbert (R) said, “Utah’s request for a waiver stems from a desire for increased customization of the program to maximize employment among Utah’s welfare recipients.”

Romney’s campaign has refused to say where and when the new advertisement is running. Its release comes the same day that Romney campaigns in Chicago, the home of Obama’s national campaign headquarters.

What is more, the ad also doesn’t mention that the Republican Governors Association asked Congress for even broader welfare waivers in 2005, in a letter signed by 29 Republican governors, including Mitt Romney.

“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 governors wrote at that time.

Obama’s team counters that the waivers are not designed to eliminate work requirements but to offer states more flexibility and opportunity for experimentation, explains The Washington Post. The rules can’t be expanded to include people who don’t currently qualify. To get a waiver, a governor must pledge that his or her proposed plan will move 20 percent more people from welfare to work. If no progress towards that target is made in a year, the waiver will be revoked.

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