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Another falsehood from the Romney campaign ... another missed opportunity for Obama?

August 8, 2012 - Mike Maneval
A new campaign ad recently unveiled by Republicans has presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney blasting the Obama administration for weakening the work requirements of the welfare reform initiative of 1996, but as Ed Kilgore of The New Republic notes, the ad simply is not true.

"In the memo (detailing the Obama administration's aims in tweaking welfare) - and in public statements by ... officials - it's made abundantly clear that the work focus and time limits for assistance that were imposed by the 1996 law will not and in their judgment cannot be waived," Kilgore writes. The memo itself, quoted by Kilgore, says the federal Department of Health and Human Services "will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals" signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.

What the Obama administration is attempting to do, Kilgore explains, is give states greater flexibility in how to reach those goals - which The New Republic writer notes has been frequently requested by governors, both Democratic and Republican, since the law was signed 16 years ago - including former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney himself.

The question that remains, however, is how effectively President Barack Obama's reelection campaign will respond. The campaign could content itself to deploy former President Clinton to call out the ad's dishonesty "in scorching detail," in Kilgore's words. Or, will Obama and his campaign seize the opportunity to place labor and its treatment as a central emphasis in the race's last days. While on this score Obama's presidency has been extraordinarily far from perfect, his campaign still has the unassembled blocks to build such a message, from the administration's efforts to save General Motors and Chrysler, to fighting for prevailing wage standards, to effective advertising chronicling how Romney's tenure at Bain Capital was part and parcel of a national movement to depreciate the value of hard work through outsourcing, wage stagnation and benefit cuts.

Obama has the means to assemble this message, and, if victorious, to take it to heart in a second term better dedicated to working Americans. It remains to be seen if he will.


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