New Romney Ad Escalates Welfare Attack on Obama

Lara Seligman
National Journal

Mitt Romney’s campaign on Monday escalated its attack on President Obama’s welfare policy, releasing a new TV ad that cites a Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial that alleges the president is trying to end work requirements for welfare and calls that decision “nuts.”

“One of the most respected newspapers in America called it ‘nuts,’ saying, ‘If you want to get more people to work, you don’t loosen the requirements – you tighten them,” a voiceover says.

The ad alleges that Obama “quietly” ended work requirements for welfare, effectively “gutting” former President Bill Clinton’s 1996 bipartisan welfare reform bill. The ad is referring to a memo from Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius informing states that the administration was willing to waive federal work requirements if the state welfare programs could come up with their own plans to improve employment outcomes.

The ad is the third spot the Romney campaign and the Republican National Committee have released on welfare in recent weeks. The line of attack started with a spot using Clinton and his 1996 welfare reform bill to attack Obama’s work on the issue, and continued with an ad showing a clip of Obama from 1998 saying that he was not a “supporter of the federal plan that was signed in 1996.”

The Obama campaign has responded to the attacks as “blatantly false” and “a complete and utter lie.” Clinton himself has called out the ad campaign as “not true.”

The ad fails to mention that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney signed a 2005 letter from the Republican Governor’s Association to congressional leadership touting the benefits a waiver program – similar to Obama’s – would bring their states.