Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney was quick to denounce the welfare reform waiver plan announced by the Obama administration last week. But in 2005, he was one of a half-dozen prominent Republican governors who supported such waivers.
The administration’s plan would provide states with more flexibility to manage their state welfare programs under Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, the welfare reform package instituted in 1996. Republicans accused the administration of attempting to “gut” welfare reform with the waivers, and Romney agreed. “President Obama now wants to strip the established work requirements from welfare. The success of bipartisan welfare reform, passed under President Clinton, has rested on the obligation of work. The President’s action is completely misdirected. Work is a dignified endeavor, and the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life,” Romney said.
But in 2005, Romney’s signature appeared on a letter from the Republican Governor’s Association to congressional leadership. The letter states explicit support for welfare waivers:
The Senate bill provides states with with the flexibility to manage their TANF programs and effectively serve their low-income populations. Increased waiver authority, allowable work activities, availability of partial work credit and the ability to coordinate state programs are all important aspects of moving recipients from welfare to work.
As ThinkProgress has noted, other Republican administrations in Utah and Nevada still support the waiver program, which the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities says will actually increase welfare’s ability to transition welfare recipients into employment programs.