The Big Lie: The President has “gutted” the work requirement from welfare reform.
The Truth: Mitt Romney is attacking a policy he has supported that encourages more welfare recipients to work, for the express purpose of provoking racial resentment.
In 1976, when Ronald Reagan attacked a mostly fictionalized “welfare queen” in a Cadillac, there was no doubt what he was invoking. Some call it the “Southern Strategy.” Our Joe Conason calls it “blowing the racial foghorn.”
But implications were clear. “Those people” are trying to take your money.
In 2005, Mitt Romney signed a letter from the Republican Governor’s Association that asked President Bush for “Increased waiver authority” in implementing Transitional Assistance to Needy Families program, more commonly known as “welfare.”
In 2012, President Obama gave five governors, two of them Republicans, more flexibility in how they managed their welfare rolls, so long as the changes resulted in at least “20 percent increases in the number of people getting work.” This is precisely the policy Romney sought.
In 2012, struggling to find an issue that voters cared about and seeking to avoid a report that suggested Mitt Romney would raise taxes on the middle class while cutting them for the rich, the GOP’s presumptive nominee accused the President of “gutting the work requirements” in welfare.
All the usual fact checking organizations declared this attack completely false. President Bill Clinton who signed the bill into the law has called the claim, “especially disappointing.” Republican Joe Scarborough said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “It’s just completely false.”
Still Romney has run three ads that made these same claims while making a promise to “put work back in welfare” a staple of his stump speech.
Copyright 2012 The National Memo