Rather than trying to shift the election narrative back to the economy, the Romney campaign is out with a new attack on President Obama. Riding a wave of conservative outrage against a little-noticed Department of Health and Human Services memo last month, the Romney campaign is attacking Obama for ending “welfare as we know it.”
The new argument allows Romney to paint Obama as a big-government liberal while shifting the narrative away from specifics of his tax plan and own tax returns.
“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job,” says the narrator of a new ad from both the Romney campaign and the RNC. “They just send you your welfare check.”
“Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works,” the narrator concludes the ad.
But that’s not exactly what the administration has done. On July 12, HHS sent a memo to the states in which it encouraged states to experiment with alternate ways to help people find employment and stressed its willingness to use its waiver authority to allow for state-level experimentation. The memo explicitly states that the waivers will only be used to help states “find more effective mechanisms for helping families succeed in employment” and that “HHS will hold states accountable by requiring both a federally-approved evaluation and interim performance targets that ensure an immediate focus on measurable outcomes.” A rebuttal on the Obama campaign’s website states that the “only waivers that will be granted will test approaches that can do a better job at promoting work among families receiving assistance.”
The conservative Heritage Foundation immediately cried foul, claiming that the administration had rewritten and gutted existing law and that, moreover, it was not in their power to do so.
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.