Newt Gingrich came out swinging on Wednesday accusing President Barack Obama of orchestrating “radical” changes to the welfare system.
“On the hard left, there is an unending desire to create a dependent America,” Gingrich said, claiming that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius was lying when she vowed to veto state requests to water down requirements that welfare recipients look for work.
Sebelius’ department has announced that it will waive the work requirements for states if they are experimenting with other plans to help the needy get jobs.
But during a conference call on Wednesday, Gingrich said that as Obama's “entire record as president has included increasing the number of people on food stamps ... our immediate assumption is that he is setting up a reduction in the work requirement.”
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has tapped Gingrich to help him buttreess his position.
Romney is targeting Obama's plan to let states seek a waiver from the work requirements of a 1996 welfare law that was a signature bipartisan achievement of former Democratic President Bill Clinton's administration.
Gingrich, who as Speaker of the House helped get the landmark welfare legislation passed in Congress, suggested Romney use the welfare waiver to attack the president in part because it could also drive a deeper wedge between Obama and Clinton.
Gingrich called Obama “the anti-Clinton,” invoking the memory of the former president, who he said moved the Democrats to the center.
“I hope every American when they watch Bill Clinton speak will realize how much weaker and less effective Obama is than the man who is nominating him,” he said. He called Obama “a direct threat to my two grandchildren’s future.”
Democrats have suggested that attacks on the waiver program have racial undertones, but Gingrich answered that by saying, “To have an honest discussion about dependency doesn’t mean you’re a racist,”
The directive from the Health and Human Services Department allows states to pursue a waiver from the work requirement of the welfare law in order to test alternative strategies that would help needy families find jobs. The aim is to give states some flexibility in how they carry out the welfare law as some state governors have advocated, rather than sticking to a rigid formula.
Republican governors in both Utah and Nevada have requested the waivers, Talking Points Memo reported.
Romney’s campaign released a new television ad on Tuesday criticizing Obama for changes to welfare, saying under the president's plan, "you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”
At a campaign event in the Chicago suburbs, Romney on Tuesday said he would "end a culture of dependency and restore a culture of good hard work," according to CNN.
"There is nothing better than a good job to help lift a family, to allow people to be able to provide for themselves and to end the spread of a culture of dependency. We must include more work in welfare," he added.
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