by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Unable to eliminate “workfare” legislatively, the Left now acts contrary to the law and employs a bureaucratic maneuver to gut the work requirements. The Obama administration claims authority to grant waivers that allow states to skirt these requirements.
This hostility to workfare is deeply at odds with the public’s view. A recent Rasmussen survey reveals that 83 percent of adults favor work requirements. Only 7 percent oppose them.
Recognizing such strong support for work requirements, liberals historically used camouflage tactics: They publicly praised workfare while seeking to murder it behind the scenes. The Obama administration has adopted this “talk right, govern left” strategy.
Humorously, Health and Human Services secretary Kathleen Sebelius even asserts that the administration abolished the TANF work requirements in order to increase work.
This is false.
The Obama administration claims authority to overhaul every aspect of the TANF work provisions (section 407), including “definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures and the calculation of participation rates” — in other words, the whole work program. Sebelius’s HHS bureaucracy declared the existing TANF law a blank slate on which it can write any policy it chooses.