Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign says Barack Obama’s “gutting” of welfare reform shows how the president is much more liberal than former Democratic President Bill Clinton.
“President Obama apparently believes that Bill Clinton was way too conservative,” said Ted Cruz, the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate in Texas, in a Tuesday conference call organized by the Romney campaign.
The campaign plans to start running television ads about Obama’s “dismantling of bipartisan welfare reform” passed during the Clinton administration in 1996, Romney officials said Tuesday.
In June, the Obama administration issued a memo removing work requirements for welfare recipients that were a hallmark of the welfare reform package. Obama officials argue the changes give the state’s more flexibility in dealing with the program.
Cruz isn’t the first Romney surrogate to use the Obama administration’s stance on welfare reform to say it shows how different the president is from Clinton, who Obama hopes to use in an effort to connect with white, middle-class men.
“There is a huge gap between Bill Clinton’s effort to take the Democratic Party to the center and Barack Obama’s effort to take it to the left,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said at a campaign event last week.
On Tuesday, Cruz argued that the maneuver on welfare reform is a sign that Obama is “far, far to left of the Clinton administration.” He also said Obama resorted to the change in an election year to please “some of the political ideologues in his party.”
“I don’t think sacrificing the welfare of the most vulnerable in society for political purposes — which is what President Obama and his administration is doing — is right or makes any sense at all,” Cruz said.
Romney campaign policy director Lanhee Chen wrote in a memo released Tuesday that upon taking office, Romney “will immediately rescind the Obama HHS memo on welfare, and make clear that work requirements are not optional.”
“This policy change undermines the very premise of welfare reform,” Chen wrote. “It is an insult to Americans on welfare who are looking for an opportunity to build better lives for themselves.”
Cruz, who won a Republican run-off in Texas last week, argued the Obama administration’s position is both “fiscally irresponsible” and “yet another action of executive arrogance by this president.”
“If he disagreed with requiring welfare recipients to work or seek work, he could’ve gone to Congress. He could have proposed new legislation. He could’ve tried to make the case to the American people. But he did not do that,” Cruz said.
The former Texas solicitor general also said the policy “hurts the recipients of welfare.”
“The most compelling reason behind the bipartisan welfare reform that we saw is that helping those receiving government assistance to get jobs to stand on their own feet fundamentally transforms their lives,” Cruz said. “We are not doing anybody a favor by giving them welfare in perpetuity and making them dependent on government.”
The Romney campaign released a television ad on the subject Tuesday. Campaign senior adviser Ed Gillespie wouldn’t disclose details about the ad buy, but said: “I can assure you people are going to see this ad.”