Bill Clinton tears into Mitt Romney’s welfare ad

Here’s Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s new ad on welfare requirements:

Here’s the statement that former President Bill Clinton released this morning:

Bill ClintonGovernor Romney released an ad today alleging that the Obama administration had weakened the work requirements of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. That is not true.

The act emerged after years of experiments at the state level, including my work as Governor of Arkansas beginning in 1980. When I became President, I granted waivers from the old law to 44 states to implement welfare to work strategies before welfare reform passed.

After the law was enacted, every state was required to design a plan to move people into the workforce, along with more funds to help pay for training, childcare and transportation. As a result, millions of people moved from welfare to work.

The recently announced waiver policy was originally requested by the Republican governors of Utah and Nevada to achieve more flexibility in designing programs more likely to work in this challenging environment. The Administration has taken important steps to ensure that the work requirement is retained and that waivers will be granted only if a state can demonstrate that more people will be moved into work under its new approach. The welfare time limits, another important feature of the 1996 act, will not be waived.

The Romney ad is especially disappointing because, as governor of Massachusetts, he requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have eliminated time limits altogether. We need a bipartisan consensus to continue to help people move from welfare to work even during these hard times, not more misleading campaign ads.

PolitiFact.com gave Romney’s ad a “pants on fire” rating. And, from the Fox News analysis of the ad:

But that letter does not unilaterally repeal or waive the law. Instead, it gives states the chance to make changes to their welfare programs and still be counted as meeting work participation requirements. It’s a leap to assume that governors and legislators will seek to return to “plain old welfare” and that the Obama administration will give them the go-ahead.

And, in 2005, Romney joined several other GOP governors in promoting “increased waiver authority.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • Elwood

    Now the dimmiecrats have two designated liars, Harry The Snake Reid and BJ Billy.

    In Billy’s case, it all depends on what the definition of “is” is.

  • Patty O’Day


    Will you also be checking the validity on the Obama ad regarding Joe Soptic who is claiming that Romney caused his wife’s death?

  • JohnW

    Re: #1

    Please enlighten us as to the anything that is even slightly inaccurate or misleading about Clinton’s statement.

    Re: #2

    Soptic ad is sleezy. First, this is the same guy who appeared in an earlier anti-Bain spot, apparently even wearing the same shirt. Second, it would be one thing to put a human face on layoffs by pointing out that, however necessary, they often set off a chain of unfortunate, even tragic consequences, including losing health care and “too little, too late” medical attention. Too often, we sanitize this stuff by talking about “creative destruction.” But the Soptic ad apparently goes beyond that. Supposedly, his wife did obtain insurance coverage after the steel layoff, so that the layoff did not cause her to lose access to timely health care.

  • Elwood

    Name something that Harry The Snake Reid and BJ Billy have in common:

    If their lips are moving, they’re lying.

  • JohnW

    Wow! Step aside George Will and Charles Krauthammer. Make room for the brilliant repartee of my online friend, Elwood.

  • Elwood

    I’m just following the rules established by Harry The Snake Reid and Stretch Pelosi.

    It doesn’t matter if it’s true or not, I can say whatever I want to.

  • Truthclubber

    Netiher I nor the few voters who matter (the 5% of undecideds in a mere 9 remaining battleground states) care about all of the self-aggrandizing bloviating going on here — THIS is all that matters:

    1) The race to see which party will control the White House

    2) The race to see which party will control the Senate — and it looks like Joe Biden will be spending a LOT more time in the ProTem chair come early 2013, as the hew Senate constructs rules to define cloture as “51 votes”, not “60” as has been the case in the more cordial past…

    Given that the Mittster has stuck a fork in himself by virtue of this latest CNN piece, means that he is the GOP equivalent of Tommy Eagleton, from a taxation perspective — he is T-O-S-T. (Don’t waste time on the ‘A’.)

    Those of you who don’t like it — start packing for Canada before we “knock on your door” post-election…because we are going to take back OUR country.

  • Truthclubber

    I posted something at 7:50 pm that would show up as item 7 on this thread, but it has no less than three hyperlinks (two more than are allowed to be posted without “control from above”) — so let’s see if Josh Richman has the intestinal fortitude to allow it to “clear moderation”.

  • Truthclubber

    Thanks Josh — I have renewed faith in you.

  • JohnW

    This is beautiful. Romney’s spokesperson today responded to the Soptic ad by saying on Fox that, if the Soptics had lived in Massachusetts, they would have had health care, thanks to Mitt, because of RomneyCare.

    Am I dreaming this, or what? Jaws must have fallen to the ground.

    The unofficial chair of the GOP, Rush Limbaugh, is having a cow over this, as are some others on the right.

    Romney created RomneyCare and bragged on in 2008 as a model for a national health care plan — specifically embracing the individual mandate.

    Running for 2012, Romney changes tune and blasts ObamaCare (based on Romney Care).

    Now, Romney spokesperson says Soptics would have been in good shape health care-wise in Massachusetts due to RomneyCare.

  • Truthclubber

    @10 —

    Silly boy — can’t you see that RomneyCare is WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY different from ObamaCare?


    Well, spelling, of course!

    Romney is spelled “R-O-M-N-E-Y”.

    Obama is spelled “Get-The-Commnunity-Organizing-Treehugging-Fagloving-Socialist-Hafrican-The-F**k-Out-Of-The-Way-So-The-Corporo-Fascists-Can-Take-Over-Once-And-For-All”.

  • Elwood

    The interesting thing about the pathetic Soptic saga is the the Soptics had health care at the time of Mrs. Soptic’s demise.

    And the evil Bain closing of the steel plant? Two years after Romney left.

  • Publius

    “It’s a leap to assume that governors and legislators will seek to return to “plain old welfare” and that the Obama administration will give them the go-ahead.”

    Is it really a leap? Has this guy been to California? Giving a failed liberal state like Ca. the option is the same thing as gutting the original program.

    True or false, I have no problem with this political ad. This ad stirs debate and slams the opponent based on something they supported in the political and legislative realm.

    On the other side the Obama campaign is running ads that are insulting and slanderous; Chicago style politics at their worst. Obama is a failure and cannot use his record as the center of his campaign; he has to accuse his opponent of being a murderer, a sexist, a racist, a felon, and a tax evader. No proof, no facts, all lies. These lies have been propagated and endorsed by the highest ranking Dems in the Senate, the House, and the White House. I am disgusted by the actions of our President.

  • Elwood

    What Publius said!

  • JohnW

    Re #13

    Nice rant, but you seem to have totally ignored the point that waivers were requested by conservative Republican governors, who are hardly out to revive “welfare as we knew it.” Secondly, California seems to have done quite well continuing “welfare as we knew it”, and then some, without waivers. So, the assumption that the waivers will take us back to pre-reform days or that lack of them has prevented anything seems faulty.

    As for being disgusted by the actions of our President, I’m sorry that you are so disappointed. I’m sure that, at the outset of his term in office, you, like Mitch McConnell, were cheerleading for his success on behalf of the American people.

  • Publius

    RE #15

    You have missed the point. A political ad focusing on welfare is different than one accusing someone indirectly of murder. I don’t care about McConnel or what party originated a bad idea. I was commenting on the tactics used by the Democratic Party and the way it reflects on the office of the President of the United States. This ad is beneath any American president; black, white, Democrat or Republican. Barrack Obama is a Liberal Democrat before President; he continues to put party before country. I do not cheer for the failure of America because of party allegiance and I am not blinded to reality due to ideology.

  • JohnW

    Re: 16

    I didn’t miss any of your points. Your post had two parts. The first, “is it really a leap?” point challenged the PolitiFact assessment of the welfare ad. My post was a rebuttal to that point.

    Your second point was that Dems run bad ads accusing Repubs of murder and tax evasion, while Repubs take the high road and run ads that runneth with purity. My post didn’t address that point. However, the Soptic ad did not accuse anybody of murder, and Harry Reid did not accuse Romney of tax evasion. Murder and tax evasion are illegal.

    I disapproved of the Soptic ad mainly because it attributed his wife’s health problems to his being laid off and losing health insurance coverage, when it turns out that she subsequently obtained coverage through her own employer but lost it when she quit. I would not have had a problem if the ad stuck to making the point that people often get hurt, including losing access to health care, through the “creative destruction” process that is at the heart of what leveraged buyout companies like Bain do. If Romney is going to make his career at Bain the central argument for being elected president, he can’t expect everybody to just go along and sing America the Beautiful in praise of his work there.

    Reid accused Romney of not paying taxes for ten years as a way of putting pressure on Romney to release more tax returns. But he did not accuse him of tax evasion. Obviously, if Romney had illegally not paid taxes for ten years, he would now be trying to avoid being sent to the Big House instead of running for the White House. I seriously doubt that, even with all the exotic shelters, loopholes and preferential tax rates available to people in Romney’s line of work, that he managed to pay nothing. My guess is he was able to pay signifcantly less than even the 14% he paid in 2010. If that’s the case, you can defend it all you want. But, as they say in the political biz, it’s “bad optics.” Which is probably why Romney hasn’t tried to deliver a knockout punch to Reid by releasing some tax returns.

  • Elwood

    Reid lies like a rug.

  • JohnW

    Re 18

    Maybe, but he’s likely serving his last term in the Senate and maybe his final year as Majority Leader. So, he’s got nothing to lose. He’s making sure that Mitt doesn’t get a free pass on his tax returns. If Mitt wants to dig in his heels, he’ll pay a political price, as he should, in my opinion. People who are not already locked into the pro or anti Obama/Romney camps will form their own conclusions as to why Mitt won’t release information that other presidential candidates have released. For that, Mitt will have nobody to blame but himself.

  • JohnW

    Interesting perspective on YahooNews, called “The Missing Evidence in Romney’s Tax Records” by Joe Conason (don’t know anything about him). You can Google it if interested.

    He basically defends Reid and is critical of sanctimonious liberals for being so quick to join the Republican attacks on Reid. He goes on to discuss a legal doctrine known as the “Missing Evidence” instruction to jurors. Of course, Romney’s tax issue is not a legal case. But, if it were, the instruction to jurors would be as follows:

    If a person in control of evidence (that would be Mitt) refuses to produce the evidence (that would be the tax returns that presidential candidates normally provide and that Romney already provided to McCain in 2008), then the jury (that would the court of public opinion in this situation) is instructed that there is a presumption that the evidence would be against the party failing to produce.

  • RR senile columnist

    As a core supporter of BHO said recently: Checking mitt taxes is not my speed, don’t post no copies cause I can’t read.

  • Elwood

    @ #20 John W.

    red herring

    a smoked herring.
    something intended to divert attention from the real problem or matter at hand; a misleading clue.

    They sure can’t run on the Ayrab’s record, now can they?

    But it’s OK to lie like Harry Reid. Nancy Pelosi says so, and you know SHE’S absolutely trustworthy.

  • JohnW

    Re #24

    If it’s a red herring as defined above, it seems to be a doozy — i.e.,it’s working in terms of public opinion. John Huntsman, Sr., once again a big backer of Romney now that Huntsman’s son isn’t running is now calling on Romney to release the returns. When the big boys in Utah start telling Mitt to provide the returns, Mitt’s in a bind.

    We don’t know that Harry Reid lied about having a source, or that the information from that source is false. Only Mitt has the means to prove that Harry is spewing falsehoods, assuming that’s the case. If Harry Reid can be accused of making accusations without offering proof, the same can be said of Mitt’s counter-accusatiion.

    I predict that, starting with the Democratic convention, Obama will shift gears and turn to running on his record. Unlike Romney, he won’t be running away from his efforts to make the health insurance market work for 60 million people who don’t have access to group insurance or government-sponsored insurance and have to rely instead on the dysfunctional, predatory individual health insurance industry.

  • For Liberty

    Romney & Obama are the same. See the clip below:


  • Ell mlandu

    Bravo Bill for helping Obama in the ongoing campaign! Obama will be okay.

  • JohnW

    As of today, Romney says (1) he won’t cut taxes for upper income people and (2) he would keep parts of ObamaCare relating to pre-existing conditions and keeping young adults on their parents insurance until age 26.


    Mitt, the only way to avoid cutting taxes on very high income people (CEO’s and other people with multi-million dollar salaries) is to leave the top tax rates where they are. For them, the value of a rate cut far exceeds the tax-saving value of itemized deductions that might be eliminated to “broaden the tax base.” So, how do you explain that to the GOP base, when you’ve been saying you would cut tax rates across the board by 20%?

    Mitt, how do you keep the part of ObamaCare regarding pre-existing conditions without requiring everybody to be in the risk pool (i.e., individual mandate)?

    Mitt, how do you take back the $716 billion in Medicare spending cuts (as done by ObamaCare and formerly proposed by Paul Ryan) and avoid the Medicare Part A trust fund being depleted by 2016 instead of 2024?