President Barack Obama’s plan to waive 16-year-old work requirements for welfare recipients is “unfair across the board,” Rep. Jim Jordan, the chairman of the Republican Study Committee, tells Newsmax.TV in an exclusive interview.
“It’s bad for the people in the system,” the Ohio congressman tells Newsmax.” It’s bad for taxpayers. It doesn’t treat taxpayers with the fairness they deserve.
“Think about this: You’ve got a family who’s working hard, paying their kids’ tuition, trying to save money to send their kids to college – and you’re now telling them people who get their tax dollars don’t have to have to do a work requirement, don’t have to work to get that money.”
But Jordan has a greater concern about “the pattern we see” in this current White House effort:
“We saw this administration telling their Justice Department not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act,” he said. “We saw this administration give waivers, now, on the ‘No Child Left Behind’ education policy. We saw them ignore the Constitution, in my judgment, when they did recess appointments.
“So there’s a pattern here of this administration just ignoring the law.”
Retaining the work requirements, signed into law in 1996 as a part of national welfare reform by President Bill Clinton, serves as a “tough-love component that actually makes welfare work,” Jordan said.
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“It makes it succeed and helps people get to a better life. It’s that tough-love incentive that individuals need to get out of the social welfare system and get into a more productive lifestyle. And, it’s been there for 16 years.”
The White House has noted that many Republicans who once supported waivers would now like to see them repealed. These include former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee; former Fla. Gov. Jeb Bush, and current Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty.
“This is different, though,” Jordan said. “This is waiving the fundamental requirement.
“We’re all for block-granting social welfare programs to the states, letting governors and state legislatures figure out what’s best. But we also have this fundamental thing.
“We’re going to block-grant it, but one of the things you have got to do is you have to make people work. That’s just one of those fundamental things of values that people need.
“If you’re not willing to work, you’re never going to be able to experience the American Dream,” Jordan said. “And to deny that and not have that requirement is just not appropriate.”
The two-term Republican, who became Study Committee chairman last year, expects the full House to vote on blocking the waivers in September as part of authorizing aid for the federal food stamp program, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.
“You’re going to see us also emphasize requiring that this work component remains part of our social welfare system,” Jordan said. “You’ll see that.
“Currently, 48 million Americans are on food stamps – one in seven of the American population. One out of every seven people, think it’s now OK for someone else to be responsible for feeding them. And that is just bad for our culture.
“We need to take this work requirement and apply it to as many places we can,” Jordan added. “The welfare-reform bill that we’ve introduced would actually say for able-bodied people applying for food stamps, there’s got to be some kind of work requirement in order to receive those.
“Treat taxpayers with the fairness they deserve and be fair to people – so we’re not just holding people in poverty, but actually giving them the skills and the attitude and the values they need to get to a more productive and better life.”
“While they extended them for some Americans, they raised them for others,” Jordan said. “We think that makes no sense. Someone is going to have to explain to me at some time how raising taxes on job-creators is going to create more jobs.”
Jordan also commented on the impact of a plan to privatize the U.S. Postal Service. It has been proposed by Peter Orszag, the former director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Obama.
Jordan said the idea opens the door to greater discussion on the future of unions in America.
“We had this play out over the year in the state of Wisconsin,” he said. “But what they found there was that – when he passed the reforms on public-sector unions – the people, the voters, the citizens in that state, the residents in that state, got to see how those reforms actually made a difference.
“They helped on costs. They helped with schools. They allowed more teachers to be in the classroom and all kind of good. They got to see the positives.
“We need to be looking at some of the same things at the federal level to reform the system: get spending under control, and better, frankly, meet the needs of the taxpayers.
“I am all for looking into that – and it’s certainly something that our fiscal situation dictates that we should do.”
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