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Highlights From RNC Conference Call With Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum on President Obama Gutting Welfare Reform

- August 9, 2012

SANTORUM: The president doesn't believe in the American people and people who are in poverty to be able to rise, otherwise he would have not done this waiver

 

Former U.S. Senator Rick Santorum:

"Lots have been thrown around on this issue in the last couple of weeks and as maybe some of you know, I've been out talking about this issue since it happened, principally because I was very, very involved in the drafting of the '96 Welfare Reform Act and I'm sure those of you who followed the campaign know I talked about it quite a bit and I believe it is the signature accomplishment of the Clinton Administration and of the Republican Congressmen in the 1990's.

"It was a transformative piece of legislation and it applied the principals that made America great, which is focusing on restoring the family structure, restoring work, getting rid of long-term dependency involving faith based and community organizations in the providing of care...

"But I gotta tell you, I came at this, not from the aspect that we're spending too much money on welfare, we gotta cut funds. It's we're spending the money the wrong way, we're creating all the wrong incentives and we need to reform the system to reflect reality of how people live their lives and how they respond to incentives and disincentives. And so that's how we approach this. And we did this as you ultimately see in a very bipartisan way. I think we got almost 70 votes in the United States Senate and of course Bill Clinton, after opposing it, came around to understanding that this was what's best for Americans, what's best for people that are relying on themselves, on work, get fathers back involved in families to put limits on welfare. All of those things are not harsh, they're not mean.

"They're in fact the kinds of things that are necessary if we're gonna have people provide for themselves and rise in society. Of course, you've been told about all the successes. You all know them about welfare roles dropping by two-thirds and about employment jumping from the most difficult to employ in our society, which were never married mothers went to all time highs. Poverty levels went to all-time lows. I mean this was a success. And even today, we have welfare roles in spite of recession, in spite of this pathetic recovery that the administration's presided over. Still welfare roles are lower than they were back in 1996 when we were in an economic expansionist time. So it shows you that the policy was a solid one.

"And it was premised on two basic things. Two things that we believed in so firmly that we said we are not gonna allow governors or future administrations to try to change by theods or executive orders or by regulations. And that is that we are going to put a tough work requirement in place and we're going to put time limits. And what this President has done in the last couple weeks by absolutely repudiating the work requirement, and I know people say that all we did is provide a waiver. We specifically said in the law that no waivers would be allowed. You want to talk about legislative history. If the president wants to look at the legislative history on this, it is full of we do not want waivers on this. This is something we will require. And in fact when we reauthorized the Welfare Reform Bill, we actually increased the work requirements. Why? Because we knew it was working and we got bipartisan support to do that. So, this was the core of it. We didn't want that to be waived.

"And the President, if he was concerned about the work requirement, certainly could be working in a bipartisan way, because we've always worked in a bipartisan way on these work requirements, to make some changes that he feels necessary if he wants to strengthen the work requirement or somehow change it to make it a better work requirement. But when you do act the way the president's acted, with contempt for the law, its absolute contempt for the law and for the constitution for the president to act in this fashion...

"And this administration is not allowing flexibility on a whole variety of programs to say now that all they're interested in is flexibility of the states when they've had an administration that has been ripe with increasing federal requirements, limiting federal flexibility, as we see in the state flexibility with federal mandates that now all of the sudden on this key central point of work, that they're now going to to strengthen the work requirements for this waiver? That's absurd. They are going to weaken it. The question is how much, and how quickly, and that we don't know at this point. But what we do know is that's the orientation of this administration. That is what the president is clearly the direction he wants to take.

"And it is against the law in my opinion for him to do so. This is an abuse of presidential power, number one, and number two, it is clear that when we look at the fact that the president waived the requirements on food stamps in 2009. And has increased the amount of government dependency, to increase the amount of government paying people all over this country, and the number of people continuing to go up to astronomical levels, the highest levels in the history of this country of the percentage of people in this country who are on some kind of government program. You're seeing a pattern here. And this pattern is now made whole in the cruelest way. Because we know that work is essential for people to rise out of poverty.

"We know how hard it is, particularly for people that have been from families who have seen generational welfare. We know how hard it is to get people off the welfare rolls and into work. But that's why we put it there, to help them, not to hurt them. Not to make them dependent. But to give them the opportunity to rise in society. And what the president is doing with this is robbing them of that opportunity by giving them an easier way out, and we saw for dozens of years in this country that when you do that, human nature is, unfortunately, they do take that easier way out and aren't challenged.

"And I can tell you the number of people both in my office and the people I talked to when I was Senator from Pennsylvania who went through the welfare system, as reformed, who thanked me who said I would have never thought I would have thanked you for making me do this but I now thank you for forcing me to do things I didn't think I could do, I wanted to do and that there was an easier way for me to do it and still survive. Thank you for challenging me and believing in me. The president doesn't believe in the American people and people who are in poverty to be able to rise, otherwise he would have not done this waiver."

Click Here To Listen To The Full Audio: http://ActNow.gop.com/uploads/08.09.2012_GOP.mp3

 

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