Media Fact Checkers Flak for Obama’s Gutting of Welfare Reform
Because I took a vacation last week, I'm a little behind on this debate. But since it's likely to rage through November, the argument remains relevant and there's simply never a bad time to expose the dishonest media.
Also, yesterday in his presser, President Obama cited fact-checkers to defend his gutting of welfare reform.
Let's start with the simple stuff, you know, the black and white stuff fact checkers are always so squeamish about because it's only in the deep waters of nuance and selective-context where they can rationalize the truth to protect Their Precious One.
The controversy surrounds an ad Mitt Romney released August 7th that rightfully hammers President Obama for arrogantly and unilaterally deciding to rewrite a piece of bipartisan legislation passed by a the Gingrich Congress in 1996 and signed by President Clinton. The quote from the ad that has our fact check overlords parsing and rationalizing and wringing their hands is this:
But on July 12th, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. 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 and welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare.
I don’t really care about all the contextual horse manure the fact checkers always drag in to shift the debate on to ground where they call Romney a liar. All I care about is whether or not those words in this particular ad are true.
Well, guess what? They are. I give you…
I had some serious doubts about Mitt Romney’s ad attacking Obama’s welfare “waivers”–until I read the New York Times editorial denouncing it. Now I know Romney’s ad isn’t as accurate as I’d thought. It’s much more accurate.
The Times notes that one of the states proposing waivers from the 1996 welfare reform’s work requirements is Nevada–indeed, Nevada was cited by the Obama Health and Human Services department when it quietly announced its plan to grant waivers on July 12 .** Here’s how the Times describes what Nevada wants to do:
[Nevada] asked to discuss flexibility in imposing those requirements. Perhaps, the state asked, those families hardest to employ could be exempted from the work requirements for six months while officials worked with them to stabilize their households. [E.A.]
“Exempted from the work requirements for six months.” That’s not just “weakening” work requirements–the safe, milder charge I chose to make a couple of days ago. It’s explicitly tossing them out the window for an extended period–“to allow time for their barriers to be addressed and their household circumstances stabilized”, in Nevada’s words.***
For those six months it’s also, unaccountably, exactly what Romney says will happen in his ad:
You wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.
Romney’s admakers will have to do better than that if they want to earn their Pinocchios.
Kaus has much more analysis, which everyone should read.
So how exactly are our fact check overlords spinning these facts into something that allows them to declare mitt Romney a liar?
Well, they do what they always do -- they cover up the facts with hundreds of words of nuance, but as is always the case, the nuance is of their choosing.
The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler:
Here, the Romney campaign is asserting an extreme interpretation of what might happen under these rules, but it is certainly not based on any specific “Obama plan.” (The Romney campaign often cries foul when Obama offers his own interpretation of still-vague Romney plans.) What really matters are the plans submitted by governors — and, as our colleague Greg Sargent noted, the two Republican governors seeking waivers issued statements saying they were not planning to weaken work requirements.
Obama is on record opposing welfare reform and as Kaus points out in his analysis, Obama stacked the Department of Health and Human Services with appointees opposed to the welfare reform bill. Then came the waivers for work requirement.
To anyone not living in Obama's tank, that sure sounds like a PLAN to me. Moreover, it sounds like a cynical, unconstitutional end-run-around-Congress kind of PLAN.
And please keep in mind that Kessler is the same fact checker who declared Romney a liar for having the temerity to state that a president who didn’t visit Israel didn’t visit Israel.
Next, we'll take on the hopelessly shameless shilling losers at Politifact:
Romney’s ad says, "Under Obama’s plan (for welfare), you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check."
That's a drastic distortion of the planned changes to Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. By granting waivers to states, the Obama administration is seeking to make welfare-to-work efforts more successful, not end them. What’s more, the waivers would apply to individually evaluated pilot programs -- HHS is not proposing a blanket, national change to welfare law.
What the hopelessly shameless shilling losers at Politifact do here is shift the debate to ground they can protect Obama on. Nowhere in the Romney ad does it say, "HHS [is] proposing a blanket, national change to welfare law."
What Obama's unilateral unconstitutional waiver does do, though, is exactly what the ad says it does -- it allows states to waive the work requirement, which guts the heart of the bill.
More from the hopelessly shameless shilling losers at Politfact:
The ad tries to connect the dots to reach this zinger: "They just send you your welfare check." The HHS memo in no way advocates that practice. In fact, it says the new policy is "designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families."
But-but-but they WILL just send you your welfare check if you don't work. That's what this waiver was EXPLICITLY designed to allow. The waiver allows people to bypass the 16 year-old work requirement and still get a welfare check.
Still more from the hopelessly shameless shilling losers at Politifact:
The ad’s claim is not accurate, and it inflames old resentments about able-bodied adults sitting around collecting public assistance. Pants on Fire!
What does "inflaming" anything have to do with FACTS?
And please keep in mind that these are the same hopelessly shameless shilling losers at Politfact that refused to declare as true the fact that Obama ate a dog but did declare as true the following:
So, using inflation-adjusted dollars, Obama had the second-lowest increase -- in fact, he actually presided over a decrease once inflation is taken into account.
As if to prove how tarnished and discredited these immoral and dishonest fact-checkers are, the Romney campaign is not stepping back even a little bit from this attack. Nor should they. But that might not have been the case four years ago, but since then these fact checkers have lost almost all of their juice as neutral referees thanks to one corrupt fact check after another.
And that my friends is good for America.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC