The president h…

The president has repeatedly ignored separation of powers

The last couple of weeks have seen a major dust-up over President Obama’s proposal to waive some of welfare reform’s work requirements. It might be a bit of a stretch to say that the president has “gutted” welfare reform, since we don’t yet actually know what those waivers will be. Right now, we are more or less left to trust the president when he says that he won’t use the waivers to weaken welfare-to-work, a dubious prospect given the president’s long record of hostility to welfare reform.

However, an even bigger concern is the president’s assertion that he has the power to waive those requirements in the first place, especially since the law clearly appears to prohibit such waivers. The authors of welfare reform, both legislators and staffers, are on record as saying that they intended to prohibit any waiver of work requirements. Representative David Camp, who helped write the law as a member of the Ways and Means Committee, says “it contained specific language prohibiting any administration from granting states waivers from the work requirement.”
The administration, on the other hand, contends that they have found a loophole because the work requirements are mentioned, tangentially, in another section of the law over which the administration does have waiver power. That may or may not stand up in court, but it certainly seems to violate the spirit of the welfare-reform law.

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