Welfare Work Requirements: Vague Replacement of Work for Welfare

In July, the Obama administration waived the core work requirements of the historic welfare reform law of 1996, which law required a portion of the able-bodied recipients in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program work or prepare for work as a condition of receiving aid. The new bureaucratic directive from Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) declared that in the future, neither states nor TANF recipients would have to obey these workfare requirements. It replaces those work requirements with new, vague standards devised by HHS without any congressional input, such as “employment exits” and “universal engagement.” Contrary to the claims of the mainstream press, this illegal waiver not only does not merely “tweak” the work provisions of the law, but often allows requirements to be bypassed entirely.

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