The Obama camp is pushing back against Mitt Romney’s charge that the White House is “taking the work requirement out of welfare,” accusing Romney of distorting a bipartisan policy that he supported as governor.
Obama’s deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter called Romney’s attacks “hypocritical and false,” noting that Republican governors in Utah and Nevada requested the waiver in question to grant them more flexibility in finding employment for welfare recipients. She noted that the Department of Health and Human Services specifically warned it would axe any requests that “weaken or undercut welfare reform or try to avoid time limits on assistance.”
According to campaign policy director James Kvaal, HHS “would require states to increase the number of people transitioning from welfare to work by 20 percent” in order to receive a waiver. The campaign noted that Romney himself was among the group of Republican governors who in 2005 requested even more far-reaching waivers.
John Podesta, who served as chief of staff to President Clinton, said he spoke to Clinton earlier in the day. Podesta said Clinton “completely agrees” that Romney distorted Obama’s position.
“I’m always happy when people embrace New Democratic policies of President Clinton,” Podesta said. “I just wish they’d tell the truth when they do it.”
Benjy Sarlin is a reporter for Talking Points Memo and co-writes the campaign blog, TPM2012. He previously reported for The Daily Beast/Newsweek as their Washington Correspondent and covered local politics for the New York Sun.