Conservatives, generally, and Romney, specifically, had a field day when the Obama administration unilaterally changed the welfare rules so that work is no longer a requirement for receiving welfare. Given Obama’s propensity for using executive orders and administrative rules to ignore both legislative and judicial precedent, this seemed like a gift from Heaven to those trying to highlight this ugly, unconstitutional habit.
The Left, of course, is not happy with the way Romney is gaining traction based on this welfare rule change. At the New Republic, Ed Kilgore makes a very good argument claiming that Romney is lying through his teeth with his ads challenging Obama’s welfare “reform.” Indeed, after I read the Kilgore article, I started thinking “Have conservatives overreached, just as Obama’s PAC/Obama did with the ‘Romney killed a woman with cancer’ ad? After all, trust is a very precious commodity, and one that can only be squandered if you’ve got the entire MSM covering for you.”
Immediately after reading Kilgore, though, Robert Rector’s National Review article explaining why the administration’s changes to the welfare rules are so dastardly. Although Rector makes no mention of, and was clearly not rebutting Kilgore, reading the two articles was It was point and counterpoint, punch and counter-punch. think Rector carries the day. I’d actually written a long post comparing the two, and explaining why I thought Rector’s was the more compelling argument — and then my computer crashed and I lost everything, including the stuff I thought I’d saved in draft form. I’m currently too disheartened to retype the whole darn thing.
I’ll say this, though — Kilgore’s argument boils down to three points: (1) Republicans never cared about work, but only cared about destroying welfare queens; (2) per the memo accompanying the rule change, all that the administration is doing is increasing flexibility, which is a good thing; (3) Republican governors have asked for this flexibility; and (4) to the extent Romney says that the changes do anything but increase flexibility (such as, for example, gut the work requirement) that’s a lie.
Rector’s argument, too, can be boiled down: (1) It was the Republicans who drafted the work requirement element of the welfare reform they forced upon a reluctant Democrat president; (2) Democrats have spent years trying to gut the work requirement; (3) the cover memo on which Kilgore relies is a great example of speak Right, government Left; and (4) the actual changes to the rules mean that the administration has now given itself unfettered power over welfare, trumping any state power to control, including the assurance that no one can be denied welfare, regardless of whether or not that person is working or intends to work.
I’d be interested in your reading of the two articles, as well as your take on the change to welfare based upon anything else you may have read or on your own personal knowledge of the subject.