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Letter of Support: Save the Welfare Work Requirement

September 12, 2012 J,

Dear Senator Hatch and Chairmen Camp, Kline and Jordan:

On behalf of more than two million Americans for Prosperity (AFP) activists in all 50 states, I am writing in strong support of your resolution of disapproval (S.J. Res. 50 & H.J. Res. 118) of the Obama administration’s attempt to weaken welfare reform.  The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program in the bipartisan Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 included the “welfare-to-work” program.  This requires that welfare beneficiaries either have a job or demonstrate that they are searching for one.

On July 12, 2012, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released a memorandum allowing states to solicit a waiver from the work requirements that are integral to welfare reform.  AFP is opposed to this change both because of the process by which it was advanced and also because waiving work requirements for welfare recipients is bad policy.

First, the HHS rule violates legislative process. Welfare-to-work requirements are an integral component of the 1996 welfare law, and they were designed to be maintained.  As a congressional summary of the law explains, “Waivers granted after the date of enactment may not override provisions of the TANF law that concern mandatory work requirements.”  To add insult to injury, the Obama administration attempted to change the law without properly notifying Congress.  In a report dated September 4, 2012, the Government Accountability Office said that HHS failed to meet the reporting requirements of the Congressional Review Act.

Second, the rule weakens a policy that has been wildly successful in helping struggling Americans.  Since they were enacted, work requirements have increased incomes, reduced poverty and limited government dependency.  Following the 1996 welfare reforms, the number of individuals receiving welfare dropped by 57 percent and poverty among single mothers fell by 30 percent.

Increasing dependence on government programs is not the path out of poverty.  A better way to help the truly vulnerable is to empower them to earn success through developing skills that are relevant in the workforce.  Instead of cutting work requirements, lawmakers should expand them to similar welfare programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Americans for Prosperity is proud to support the resolution of disapproval, S.J. Res. 50 & H.J. Res. 118.  I urge your colleagues to support its passage, and I look forward to working with you in the future.

Sincerely,

James Valvo
Director of Policy
Americans for Prosperity

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