First of all there was no “executive order” signed by the president that was “designed to gut welfare.” What happened was the Department of Health and Human Services issued an informational memo to the 50 states and other interested parties outlining the waiver program for making Temporary Assistance to Needy Families [TANF] stronger in the following directions:

As specified in statute, the purpose of Part A is to increase the flexibility of states in operating a program designed to: (1) provide assistance to needy families so that children may be cared for in their own homes or in the homes of relatives; (2) end the dependence of needy parents on government benefits by promoting job preparation, work, and marriage; (3) prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and establish annual numerical goals for preventing and reducing the incidence of these pregnancies; and (4) encourage the formation and maintenance of two-parent families.

That very statement was one of the bedrock issues for the Right under their Contract with America as Welfare Reform was passed in the House and the Senate in 1996 in the form of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 [PRWORA]. This new law dismantled the old system of Aid to Families with Dependent Children [AFDC] which had been abused for decades. Welfore Reform was one of the pieces of legislation that both the Congress and the Clinton administration can look back upon with pride. AFDC was replaced by TANF.

Of course the America of 1996 is far different from the America of 2012. In 2012, the polarization has become so deep between Right and Left, and truly between Right and Center, that any lie that makes the President of the United States appear to be against white working Christian conservatives can, will and must be told and then repeated until any proof to the contrary is spun as “Liberal lies.” A clear example of this is the post at written by Matt Hadro tnhat quotes an article written by Robert Rector and Katherine Bradley in the National Review bearing the conservative red meat title, “Obama ends welfare as we know it.”

Rector and Bradley likely sat down and confessed their knowledge to each other that what they were writing was a lie; simply a political hit piece designed to bring ill informed rural and urban blue collar white voters closer to the dark heart of the Romney/Ryan ticket. But a lie is a lie still. The Priorities USA ad where the guy basically said Romney killed his wife was a lie and that was a terrible one that never needs to be repeated by any surrogate of the Obama campaign. This is a different issue because it is yet another racial dog whistle by the conservatives.

The first place that I was able to find anything related to this HHS directive of 12 July 2012 was in the piece by Rector and Bradley at National Review. Countless people have come out to explain that the HHS hasn’t the authority to waive work requirements except in very specific cases which were allowed by the original law. So much like conservatives swallowed the poison the Manhattan Institute sold as it tried to convince conservatives that the Community Reinvestment Act working to get black Americans a home they could not afford was the cause of the housing collapse they also swallow what Rector and Bradley have peddled here.

The National Review article mentions Section 1115 under 42 USC 1315 where the power and explanation of the waivers lies according to Rector and Bradley. This stipulation isn’t some creation of the Obama administration, it is a part of the law as asigned by President Clinton and also utilized by President Bush after him. But Rector and Bradley aren’t even accurate in this. The power to allow STATES waivers lies in Section 602:

§602. Eligible States; State plan
(a) In general
As used in this part, the term “eligible State” means, with respect to a fiscal year, a State that, during the 27-month period ending with the close of the 1st quarter of the fiscal year, has submitted to the Secretary a plan that the Secretary has found includes the following:

(1) Outline of family assistance program
(A) General provisions
A written document that outlines how the State intends to do the following:

(i) Conduct a program, designed to serve all political subdivisions in the State (not necessarily in a uniform manner), that provides assistance to needy families with (or expecting) children and provides parents with job preparation, work, and support services to enable them to leave the program and become self-sufficient.

(ii) Require a parent or caretaker receiving assistance under the program to engage in work (as defined by the State) once the State determines the parent or caretaker is ready to engage in work, or once the parent or caretaker has received assistance under the program for 24 months (whether or not consecutive), whichever is earlier, consistent with section 607(e)(2) of this title.

(iii) Ensure that parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities in accordance with section 607 of this title.

(iv) Take such reasonable steps as the State deems necessary to restrict the use and disclosure of information about individuals and families receiving assistance under the program attributable to funds provided by the Federal Government.

(v) Establish goals and take action to prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies, with special emphasis on teenage pregnancies, and establish numerical goals for reducing the illegitimacy ratio of the State (as defined in section 603(a)(2)(C)(iii) 1 of this title) for calendar years 1996 through 2005.

(vi) Conduct a program, designed to reach State and local law enforcement officials, the education system, and relevant counseling services, that provides education and training on the problem of statutory rape so that teenage pregnancy prevention programs may be expanded in scope to include men.

The damning paragraphs of the informational memorandum can be found in Scope of Authority section [emphasis mine]:

Section 1115 authorizes waivers concerning section 402. Accordingly, other provisions of the TANF statute are not waivable. For example, the purposes of TANF are not waivable, because they are contained in section 401. The prohibitions on assistance are not waivable, because they are contained in section 408.

While the TANF work participation requirements are contained in section 407, section 402(a)(1)(A)(iii) requires that the state plan “[e]nsure that parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities in accordance with section 407.” Thus, HHS has authority to waive compliance with this 402 requirement and authorize a state to test approaches and methods other than those set forth in section 407, including definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures, and the calculation of participation rates. As described below, however, HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF.

When dealing with those on the Right any lie that suits their purpose is better than the Truth any day as long as it gains traction among the base. Had I given a short and basic explanation they would have said the sources weren’t valid or they had a “liberal bias.” Doing it this way they will say it is wonky gibberish that no one can understand. This is what happens when dealing with people with the mentality of sheep who value guns and Bibles more than the prosperity and progress of their nation.

Qu’ul cuda praedex nihil!

Diane Valencen, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H [Journ.], ArF J., M.F.
Editorial Page Editor
The Dis Brimstone Daily Pitchfork
98 Shatter 2 AS


  1. I’m sorry, Diane, that you like so many others have been duped by the Secretary of the HHS. Your argument is however, legally flawed. Please see the following for a detailed analysis of why Section 402 does NOT allow 407 to be waived.

    Really, it isn’t that hard to grasp if you are able to read a statute properly. 402 tells states what the reporting requirements are for the law, while 407 outlines the requirements themselves. Trying to say that you can wave the requirements by waiving the reporting of how those requirements are implemented is ridiculous. You might as well say that because Section 402 mentions the program, the Secreatry can say she is allowed to waive any compliance with the program she chooses.

    • Diane Valencen, D.S.V.J., O.Q.H [Journ.], ArF J., M.F. Says:

      Cara you make my point for me. States have the right to accept waivers to try new paths to employment. Neither the HHS Sec’y nor the President has stripped the work requirement from welfare reform. This is nothing more than a dog whistle to working class white voters who feel the pittances they make are being taxed to death so that minorities can stay home drinking and breeding. Similar waivers were offered by the Bush administration and many states took up the offer including Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin.

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