Obama Moves to the Left of Clinton on Welfare - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
Obama Moves to the Left of Clinton on Welfare

Earlier this week, I wrote about Barack Obama’s desire to return to the top tax rates of Bill Clinton’s presidency. Today his administration has distanced itself from one of Clinton’s key domestic policy successes by allowing states to opt out of the work requirement in the 1996 welfare reform law.

Obviously, the policy move is motivated by the weakness of the economy. But the politics are baffling: signing the welfare reform bill took one of Bob Dole’s last wedge issues off the table in the 1996 election and helped solidify Clinton’s New Democrat bona fides. Obama is effectively repudiating a core component of welfare reform while facing a reelection fight much more competitive than Clinton’s.  He has also added to the growing list of areas where he has invoked executive authority as a way of getting around the clear intent of Congress.

Even though it is undoubtedly a response to the chronic joblessness that lingers throughout the country — itself not much of an endorsement of Obama — the optics of this look bad. The actual results of welfare reform did much more to vindicate its center-right supporters than its liberal critics.

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