The magic bullet that achieved this authentic reform was requiring able-bodied adults to work or at least prepare for work, as a condition of receiving taxpayer handouts. This requirement imposed on welfare recipients was not only good for the taxpayers, but it was also good for the recipients because it put them on the path to self-sufficiency and led to a decline in child poverty.
The welfare system that was formerly called Aid to Families with Dependent Children, AFDC, was retitled Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, TANF. The change wasn't merely semantic; the plan was really to make welfare temporary, helping families to give up dependency on government.
Before 1996, there was nothing temporary about welfare. It was a permanent subsidy for a lifestyle that subsidized illegitimacy and avoidance of responsibility for individual behavior. Contrary to claims of those who opposed the new system, the dramatic success of the Republican welfare reform was due not to giving more flexibility to state governments but to putting tough restrictions on spending the money by the states.
Obama's goal, as he has said, is to "fundamentally transform the United States" and to "spread the wealth" to produce more dependency on government. As he probably learned at the Socialist Workers conference he attended while at Columbia, and then as a student of Chicago radical Saul Alinsky, the best way to do that is to load more people onto the welfare rolls.
In gutting the Republican welfare reform, Obama ignored the fact that the work requirement written into the TANF law is "mandatory." He just went ahead and issued a waiver anyway, claiming it is OK under Section 1115 of the Social Security Act.
However, the TANF law states that waivers cannot be issued unless they are specifically listed in Section 1115. Welfare's "work" requirement" is not listed.
Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, who worked on writing the 1996 welfare reform, says the "mandatory work requirements" that are contained in Section 407 were deliberately not listed in Section 1115 and therefore cannot legally be waived. He reminds us that before 1996, Democrats had evaded work requirements by allowing such prevarications as hula dancing, attending Weight Watchers and bed rest to qualify as "work."
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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