On the eve of Bill Clinton’s address to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Tuesday confirmed that President Barack Obama did in fact change the rules in Bill Clinton’s landmark Welfare Reform Act despite the Obama administration’s claims to the contrary.
The GAO said the Obama administration should give Congress an opportunity to block the tweaks it made to the law.
“It must be submitted to Congress and the comptroller general before taking effect,” GAO general counsel Lynn H. Gibson wrote to lawmakers on Tuesday.
In July, the Obama administration gutted the work requirements in the welfare law by giving states more latitude to get waivers for the work requirements or define “work” in a way that would allow those on welfare to receive benefits while doing things like going to fitness classes, which states could define as “work.”
Mitt Romney has attacked Obama on welfare by running numerous ads and has criticized Obama on the stump for being against the fundamental tenet of Clinton’s signature piece of legislation. Liberals and the mainstream media have accused Romney of using racially-coded language, even if they made up the language themselves.
Clinton signed the Welfare Reform Act into law in 1996 after working on the bill with former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and those like former Wisconsin Gov. Tommy Thompson. This angered liberals, like Peter Edelman, who left the Clinton administration in protest, but the legislation has been effective in ending the culture of dependency by placing a premium on work for able-bodied people.
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-MI) asked the GAO to determine whether the Obama administration’s tweaks to the welfare laws amounted to a rule change that required congressional approval, which the GAO said that it was.
“This analysis is unequivocal that any changes must be submitted to Congress,” Hatch said. “Circumventing Congress, as this White House has done, is a flagrant abuse of our system of checks and balances and an insult to American taxpayers.”