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Public Statements

Detroit News - Keeping the Work in Welfare

Op-Ed

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By Representative Dave Camp

Can there be any remaining doubt that President Barack Obama is a big government liberal? Obamacare, massive deficit spending and sky-high taxes aside, Obama's push to unilaterally dismantle the work requirements in our nation's welfare program is just the latest demonstration of his intractable attachment to policies that have been tried and failed.

With his executive action unwinding welfare to work, he's essentially taking our nation backward to the days when the Aid to Families with Dependent Children program fostered a culture of reliance on government handouts by creating a perverse incentive for people without work to continue not working in order to remain enrolled.

The Obama administration's action goes against the very spirit of the bipartisan reform plan passed by Congress and signed by President Bill Clinton in 1996. As a result of compromise -- something that tends to be in short supply in Washington, D.C. -- millions of people moved off the welfare rolls and into paying jobs that helped them get back on their feet. Poverty rates dropped, and the middle class grew.

As Clinton said 10 years later, welfare reform was a success because people understood that our nation could not "be satisfied with a system that had led to intergenerational dependency."

But there were some who disagreed -- including one Barack Obama. Even when he was serving as a state senator in Illinois, he expressed on multiple occasions his disapproval of the 1996 act that helped transform our welfare system from an entitlement program off which people lived for years, to the temporary assistance program it is today.

So perhaps it should come as no surprise that Obama is now abusing his executive power to undermine welfare reform. And it represents the clearest example of the stark choice voters face this November.

Obama puts his faith in government, but that faith has yet to deliver the results he promised voters four years ago. Instead, we've gotten 42 months of unemployment above 8 percent and 23 million Americans still struggling for work.

This welfare policy change is just another insult both to those who are trying to build better lives for themselves and to those who are working more for less, thanks to his government-growing, budget-busting economic policies.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney puts his faith in the hard-working men and women of this country, and he understands the power of free enterprise. As governor of Massachusetts, he not only created tens of thousands of jobs and brought the unemployment rate down to 4.7 percent, he also rejected multiple efforts to weaken the work requirements in the state's welfare program.

Because he recognizes the importance of the welfare to work requirements, Mitt Romney has already committed to rescinding Obama's misguided directive if elected president. Even more importantly, Romney's economic plan will produce a true economic recovery that delivers more jobs and more take-home pay for the Americans who need it most.

By focusing on five key areas -- energy independence, skills for success, trade that works, cutting the deficit, and encouraging small business -- Romney's plan will create 12 million jobs by the end of his first term and help the economy rebound.

That's the kind of plan that will restore our middle class, and that's the kind of leadership Americans are calling for -- not more tired old-school liberal politics.

Congressman Dave Camp, R-Midland, represents Michigan's 4th District in Washington.


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