Mitt Romney: Integrity lost on a campaign of misrepresentations

The Romney campaign keeps airing an ad in my state that says how President Obama promised us hope and change if he got elected; and that’s true. Then the ad goes south by completely falsifying the President’s excellent record. The punch line is that he tried but failed and it’s okay to elect someone else. It’s a feeble attempt to once again make the President look bad.

We want more from someone who wants to be commander-in-chief than the ability to spend millions of dollars on false ads just to make the President look bad. That kind of action creates no value for anyone. Romney’s latest ad is both hypocritical and false. It claims the President’s welfare waivers weaken the welfare-to-work requirements. That’s not true. Even President Clinton – who signed welfare reform into law – said Romney’s claims are “not true” and called the ad “especially disappointing.”

Welfare reform requires states to move people from federal assistance to work, but some federal requirements are extremely complex. Sometimes caseworkers end up spending more time doing paperwork than helping people find work. For years states (and Republican governors) have asked for the right tools and flexibility to adjust to their needs on a state level. President Obama responded with waivers that give states the flexibility to build welfare-to-work programs that are best for them, while at the same time require them to strengthen work requirements by increasing job placement by 20 percent.

This is the kind of vision and action we need in a president. President Obama listened to the states’ concerns and created new options to help them meet their needs. The waivers can’t be used to weaken welfare reform. They won’t be approved if they weaken or undercut welfare reform or try to avoid time limits on assistance. They’ll only be given to states that test ways to do a better job at promoting work among families that get assistance.

This is consistent with the President’s long record of making sure work is part of welfare. In Illinois, he worked with Republicans in the State Senate to pass welfare reform. They later thanked him for his “bipartisan support and work” that helped get it done.

The hypocrisy in Romney’s ad and his statements is that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney requested the same kind of welfare flexibility waivers that President Obama provided.

  • Romney signed a letter with other Republican governors in 2005 urging the Senate to move quickly on “increased waiver authority” for the welfare program.
  • Romney wanted the waivers to go further than the President’s proposal and waive time limits on assistance. Romney’s waiver request would undercut the central idea of welfare reform, and it wouldn’t be approved under the President’s plan.
  • Romney created a program that gave free cars to the state’s welfare recipients. It also paid for a year of their insurance, inspections, taxes, titles, registration, repairs and even AAA membership. In one year alone it cost the state $400,000.

President Obama reached across the aisle and put in place a new policy that strengthens welfare-to-work. Romney is falsely criticizing a policy he once supported that empowers states to implement welfare reform – he’d rather falsely attack the President than find solutions.

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