Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign is making a rare pivot away from the economy today, shifting its focus to President Obama’s supposed plan to “gut welfare reform.”
There are two problems with this talking point, however, and they are the same two problems that characterized Romney’s entire campaign: the attack is flagrantly false, and the president’s actual position is something that Romney himself used to endorse.
Romney’s new attack focuses on the Obama administration’s July decision to grant waivers to states under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families law. The waivers are designed to let states experiment to improve “welfare to work programs.” As the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities explains, they will actually strengthen welfare reform by shifting the focus of TANF employment programs “from process and ‘bean counting’ (whether recipients participate in programs) to outcomes (whether they actually find and keep jobs).”
According to Romney’s newest ad, however, President Obama is “dropping work requirements” to “gut welfare reform.”
As MSNBC’s Steve Benen points out, Romney is sinking to a whole new level of dishonesty with this ad:
It’s important to realize this is as dishonest an ad as you’ll ever see — in 2012 or in any other campaign cycle…Romney’s lying. He’s not spinning the truth to his advantage; he’s not hiding in a gray area between fact and fiction; he’s just lying. The law hasn’t been “gutted”; the work requirement hasn’t been “dropped.” Stations that air this ad are disseminating an obvious, demonstrable lie.
Making Romney’s lie even more egregious is the fact that he used to support the exact same waiver program that he is now attacking. As Think Progress’ Travis Waldron reports, Romney was one of 29 Republican governors who signed a letter to congressional leadership endorsing a waiver program just like the one that President Obama adopted.
“Increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work,” the Romney signed letter says.
Romney’s dishonest welfare attack is emblematic of his entire campaign. Romney lies about the Affordable Care Act, even though he passed an almost identical law while he was governor of Massachusetts. He lies about President Obama’s Iran policy, even though he promises to do nearly the exact same things if elected. And now he’s lying about the supposedly devastating effects of a welfare policy that he’s explicitly endorsed in the past.
Given Romney’s aggressive brand of hypocrtical mendacity, it’s really no wonder that President Obama — and nearly every other candidate who’s ever run against him — has come to genuinely disdain the presumptive Republican nominee.