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Goodness, does anyone read beyond the headlines or entertain anything beyond their own preconceptions around here?


Ha! Good one, Speck!

In a recent post ( I sliced, diced, minced, pureed and (every other button on a 14-speed blender) all the Democrat arguments that 'Obama didn't gut the welfare requirement'. Go ahead, read my post. I actually, um, read the law, and in fact cite it so that others can, too.

Your side, on the other hand, continues to parrot the HuffPo talking points (, ironically -- and laughably -- calling it "Welfare Reform: The Whole Story". Nothing could be further from the truth.

Now, I expect our PA denizens to be quite soft on actual mental effort. But I hear the same things out of Juan Williams and other talking heads, saying things like, " said it didn't gut the working requirement." That much is true: that is, that Factcheck actually says that.

But Factcheck's so-called 'analysis' is incomplete. They specifically ignore that the guidance issued by HHS is by its existence in contravention of the law as written, though they (Factcheck) do include some weasel words that should give anyone who chooses to think (PA denizens, you may be excused) that HHS is significantly loosening the requirements (again, these were *heavily contested and specifically reinforced* requirements): (Emphasis added.)

“Repeated failure to meet performance benchmarks may lead to the termination of the waiver demonstration pilot,” the rules state.
A lot will depend on what a state proposes and how it is implemented. There is nothing inherent in the waivers that guts work requirements.

Wow, that's comforting. *May* lead to termination. *Nothing inherent.*

The point is that they don't have this authority. Specifically, this part of the HHS guidance is *against the law*:

Thus, HHS has authority to waive compliance with this 402 requirement and authorize a state to test approaches and methods other than those set forth in section 407, including definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures, and the calculation of participation rates.

They don't have this authority, because, among other things, 'work activities' is defined within section 407, and waivers cannot be granted with respect to section 407. By the way, what are those 'work activities'?

(d) Work Activities Defined.—As used in this section, the term “work activities” means—

(1) unsubsidized employment;

(2) subsidized private sector employment;

(3) subsidized public sector employment;

(4) work experience (including work associated with the refurbishing of publicly assisted housing) if sufficient private sector employment is not available;

(5) on-the-job training;

(6) job search and job readiness assistance;

(7) community service programs;

(8) vocational educational training (not to exceed 12 months with respect to any individual);

(9) job skills training directly related to employment;

(10) education directly related to employment, in the case of a recipient who has not received a high school diploma or a certificate of high school equivalency;

(11) satisfactory attendance at secondary school or in a course of study leading to a certificate of general equivalence, in the case of a recipient who has not completed secondary school or received such a certificate; and

(12) the provision of child care services to an individual who is participating in a community service program.

Those are *extremely* broad. For anyone to contend that they need to be 'modified', they're being disingenuous at best. Things like this have to go back through Congress, like people normally do when it comes to things like laws.

Factcheck's integrity, to me, is lessened, because they did shoddy work here. They can hide behind weasel words like 'it doesn't inherently gut welfare reform', but it is clear that (a) HHS doesn't have authority to do what they did and (b) they are trying to make discretionary something that was specifically reinforced to be non-discretionary. HHS is, in essence, using flowery language to break the law. Once they make it discretionary, they can then use that discretion to grant or extend waivers as they choose, and THAT DOES GUT WELFARE REFORM. (Sorry for the caps, but your side is as dense as a black hole on this subject.)

Factcheck and HuffPo and the Washington Post can bring a thousand lawyers; I don't care. I would still kick their @$$ on this, because I've read the law. There's only three options here: 1) read and understand the law, and you'll have to agree with me, 2) ignore the law and parrot talking points, or 3) lie. But in the meantime, go ahead, get back on your high horse about how we don't read beyond the headlines.
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