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Imagine that. The President of the United States notices that the welfare regulations are preventing a lot of impoverished people from getting help during this prolonged recession and, using the discretion at his command, approves some administrative changes that would allow a lot more people to be eligible. This is upsetting a lot of asshats, like Orin Hatch and Mickey Kaus.
Now, there's a reason you don't read about Mickey Kaus on this blog: No one in the progressive world takes him seriously, not even a little bit. In fact, you can tell that a policy change is the right one in inverse proportion to Mickey Kaus's hissy fit. And the fact that he thinks it's political suicide to help desperate people survive is classic Third Way thinking. I would not wish on Mr. Kaus the same fate he so fervently desires for so many others. From Alex Pareene in Salon:
So, lifetime caps and strict work requirements and desperately cash-starved states and a prolonged unemployment crisis have basically all added up to TANF not actually providing any benefits to millions of people who need them. (This, again, is sort of by design!)
And apparently the Obama administration’s Department of Health and Human Services has responded to this by expressing a willingness to grant states waivers for some work requirements, under certain conditions. Which led, of course, to the Heritage Foundation accusing Obama of “gutting welfare reform.” According to their reading of the HHS memo: “The new Obama dictate asserts that because the work requirements, established in section 407, are mentioned as an item that state governments must report about in section 402, all the work requirements can be waived.” But the work requirements were one of the most important parts of the reform law, and they are, supposedly, not supposed to be subject to waivers. Tyranny!
In the past, state bureaucrats have attempted to define activities such as hula dancing, attending Weight Watchers, and bed rest as “work.” These dodges were blocked by the federal work standards. Now that the Obama Administration has abolished those standards, we can expect “work” in the TANF program to mean anything but work.The new welfare dictate issued by the Obama Administration clearly guts the law. The Administration tramples on the actual legislation passed by Congress and seeks to impose its own policy choices — a pattern that has become all too common in this Administration.The result is the end of welfare reform.
(There are obviously no links or citations substantiating any of the claims in the first quoted paragraph.)
So I dunno, I guess the Obama administration is circumventing the law to … make it slightly easier for poor people to receive assistance, which on the whole I think I approve of.
Someone who doesn’t approve of this is Mickey Kaus, the famous Democratic warblogger currently at Tucker Carlson’s “The Daily Caller.” Kaus is one of those Democrats who, from the first paragraph, is on a never-ending crusade for border fences and the elimination of labor unions and so on. He loves welfare reform because it made dumb, lazy, poor people get off their lazy asses and go to work instead of collecting government checks to buy Cadillacs. Obama’s gutting of welfare reform makes him so mad!
He is worried that weakening, or being seen as weakening, the work requirements sends the “wrong signal,” and that the hordes of leeches and parasites that make up the American underclass will hear this signal and flock back on the gravy train. But most important, he can’t figure out why Obama would do this. Welfare reform works super well — the proof is that much fewer people receive welfare now! Why change a program that has worked so perfectly?Especially when there are much better options for helping people, like … doing some different thing.
[...] Finally, in point thirteen, Kaus says, “If this is a political move, I don’t understand it, because as we all know welfare is horribly unpopular, and promising to destroy welfare got both Reagan and Clinton elected.” But maybe — and I’m really just spitballing, here — it’s not a “political move” and it is actually a move designed to address the fact that welfare reform left the program uniquely unsuited to help people in the event of a massive, prolonged unemployment crisis. Or, hell, maybe HHS is correct when it says it’s just trying to let states come up with more effective job prep and placement programs! (Tyranny again!!) Or maybe Obama just did this to piss off the Heritage Foundation and steal the money of hard-working Real Americans to give to shiftless Welfare Queens. Anything is possible! Anything besides poverty-alleviating government programs operating without being vindictively stingy and punitive in the United States, anyway.