Fact Check: President Obama 'Gutted' Welfare Reform

Image credit: J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

Newt Gingrich, speaking alongside his wife, Callista, tonight in Tampa, revived the Romney camp's claims that the Obama administration had "gutted" welfare reform by offering waivers for states seeking more flexibility in meeting federal work requirements.

On Aug. 7, Romney released an ad claiming that "under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check."

But as Gingrich himself told CNN just two days later, "We have no proof today, but I would say to you under Obama's ideology it is absolutely true he would be comfortable sending a lot of people checks for doing nothing."

Tonight, Gingrich doubled down.

"Tragically, President Obama gutted this achievement and, like Jimmy Carter, over four years he produced little effective legislation that brought the two parties together," he said. "Waiving the work requirements in welfare reform is just one example of his direct repudiation of President Reagan's values."

The language from the memo in question, though, belies much of the Republican claim.

The Health and Human Services department "will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of [the 1996 reform legislation]," it says.

In effect, the Obama administration has stated it would be willing to give states the option to propose more efficient ways to get welfare recipients back to work. Any such plan would require the state to increase the number of people moving from welfare to work by 20 percent.

Among the states to file for the waivers so far are Utah and Nevada. Both have Republican governors.

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