Mitt Romney hammered President Barack Obama Wednesday over his administration's changes to welfare, despite calls from Democrats that the Republican White House hopeful is distorting the president's position on the issue.
For the second day in a row, Romney continued to highlight - in ads, web videos and speeches - how when President Bill Clinton signed the bipartisan welfare reform bill into law in 1996, then-Illinois State Senator Obama opposed it.
"Back at that time, then Senator Obama was opposed to putting work together with welfare," Romney said Wednesday during a campaign speech in Des Moines. "Just a few days ago, he put that original intent in place. With a very careful executive action he removed the requirement of work from welfare. It is wrong to make any change that would make America more of a nation of government dependency."
Romney neglected to mention that Obama had changed his position since then. When he ran for president in 2008, Obama said he supported the landmark legislation that required work training for Americans receiving government assistance.
"It worked better than I think a lot of people anticipated," Obama said at Pastor Rick Warren's Saddleback forum four years ago. "And one of the things that I am absolutely convinced of is that we have to have work as a centerpiece of any social policy. Not only because, ultimately people who work are going to get more income. But the intrinsic dignity of work, the sense of purpose."
In July, the Obama administration issued a directive allowing states to receive waivers that would let them alter their work requirements for welfare recipients. While the purpose of the directive was to give states more flexibility in enforcing the welfare-to-work program, Republicans have argued the directive was a veiled attempt to remove the requirement for work.
Romney's campaign especially hammered Obama over the issue in a new ad released Tuesday, which claims the new policy would "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," the narrator continues. "And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare."
But Obama's campaign, the White House, former President Clinton, and an independent fact-checking organization have called the ad's claims false. The administration points to a provision in the adjusted policy that requires states to increase the number of recipients going into the workforce by 20% in exchange for the waiver.
"Governor 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," Clinton wrote in a statement Tuesday night, adding that the Obama administration had taken steps to ensure work requirements for welfare recipients were maintained.