In 1996, Republicans forced through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) bill, also known as welfare reform. It incentivized states to create welfare-to-work programs, trying to transition Americans from government dependency to financial solvency. But states quickly acted to poke holes in that legislation, calling the following activities “work” for purposes of the statute: bed rest, personal care activities, massage, exercise, journaling, motivational reading, smoking cessation, weight loss promotion, participation in parent-teacher meetings, or helping friends or family with household tasks and errands.
This was idiotic. So in 2005, Congress closed the loophole, over the objections of then-Senator Obama.
Now, Obama has walked back the 2005 legislation, using his Department of Health and Human Services to unilaterally waive those work requirements. “This Administration is unbelievable,” said Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT). “Green-lighting new regulations to change bipartisan welfare reform without consultation from Congress is an outright abuse of the federal government’s system of checks and balances and an insult to American taxpayers.”
A high-ranking Republican staffer commented, “Only someone with a religious faith in government would change the rules such that ‘journaling’ now qualifies you for welfare assistance.”
But this is Obama’s new definition of work: anything that allows you to receive government assistance. After all, welfare, unemployment benefits, and all other payouts forward the economy, according to our magnificent president.