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Changing America – one waiver, one executive order at a time

Unless you’re still working a day and/or night job, immersed in the Republican Veep-stakes, or enveloped in the latest media  ’we really need to know” when Romney left Bain twaddle (btw, I don’t care), you probably didn’t know that yesterday, Health & Human Services issued a policy directive, that in essence gutted the work requirements of the Welfare Reform law passed under President Clinton in 1996.

Welfare was formerly known as AFDC, Aid to Families with Dependent Children.  It was replaced in 1996 with TANF, Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.  The underlying foundation of TANF is that people are required to find work, or prepare to find work, to receive welfare assistance.

According to an analysis by the Heritage Foundation of the policy directive, they report:

Today the Obama Administration issued a new directive stating that the traditional TANF work requirements can be waived or overridden by a legal device called the section 1115 waiver authority under the Social Security law (42 U.S.C. 1315).

Section 1115 states that “the Secretary may waive compliance with any of the requirements” of specified parts of various laws. But this is not an open-ended authority: Any provision of law that can be waived under section 1115 must be listed in section 1115 itself. The work provisions of the TANF program are contained in section 407 (entitled, appropriately, “mandatory work requirements”). Critically, this section, as well as most other TANF requirements, are deliberately not listed in section 1115; they are not waiveable.

In establishing TANF, Congress deliberately exempted or shielded nearly all of the TANF program from the section 1115 waiver authority. They did not want the law to be rewritten at the whim of Health and Human Services (HHS) bureaucrats. Of the roughly 35 sections of the TANF law, only one is listed as waiveable under section 1115. This is section 402.

Section 402 describes state plans—reports that state governments must file to HHS describing the actions they will undertake to comply with the many requirements established in the other sections of the TANF law. The authority to waive section 402 provides the option to waive state reporting requirements only, not to overturn the core requirements of the TANF program contained in the other sections of the TANF law.

The new Obama dictate asserts that because the work requirements, established in section 407, are mentioned as an item that state governments must report about in section 402, all the work requirements can be waived. This removes the core of the TANF program; TANF becomes a blank slate that HHS bureaucrats and liberal state bureaucrats can rewrite at will.

If you read the actual policy directive, they are quoted:

The Administration for Children and Families (ACF) is interested in more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs that offer opportunities for earnings and advancement that will allow participants to avoid dependence on government benefits.

It then goes on to list examples of several demonstration projects, all of which have one line in common, “in lieu of certain participation rate requirements.”

And so it goes on, the dismantling of legislation passed by Congress, who are duly elected representative of the people, because either the Washington bureaucrats or the President, doesn’t like it.

After the Supreme Court struck down Sections 3, 5C and 6, but not Section 2 of the Arizona immigration law was struck down, Secretary Napolitano’s Homeland Security Dept. stated “it would rescind its 287(g) agreements between US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Arizona state and local law enforcement agencies, effective immediately, to bar them from carrying out federal immigration law. Under the 287(g) program, ICE deputizes state and local authorities to enforce federal immigration laws.”

All of this begs the question, where are the illustrious members of our Congress?  Why is it that members of our Legislative branch, regardless of Party, fail to see the dangers and illegalities of these over-reaching power grabs.  Chief Justice John Roberts got it right with his recent decision.  It’s up to the people, the voters in November, to clean house.  And I hope we will.

November 6, 2012.  The day we take America back.

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