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Politics: Sorry, liberals, I did not apologize - and I am not wrong - about welfare work requirements

Published by: Herman Cain on Saturday September 1st, 2012

Herman Cain

By HERMAN CAIN - You do realize I was kidding around when I told Jon Stewart, "I'm sorry, so shoot me." Right?

I love going on Jon Stewart’s show because the guy is hilarious and it’s always a lot of fun. The fact that he has created a successful comedy show while dealing with topics like welfare reform shows just how creative and talented he is.

But sometimes it’s a difficult environment in which to debate a serious topic, and that was the case when we were talking about welfare work requirements during the segment that aired on August 29. Not only were we trying to find some common ground on the question of whether Obama “gutted” work requirements in welfare, we were also joking around about what either of us would have to do if proven wrong. (Jon wanted me to wear a Code Pink shirt and sing, “Bush lied, people died.” I don’t think so!)

After we went back and forth a few times on this, I threw up my hands, laughing, and said, “Fine, I’m sorry. So shoot me!”

Knowing how the information world works these days, I shouldn’t be surprised that many liberals are passing this link around and claiming I admitted I was wrong. No. I did not and I do not.

I did agree that the use of the word “gutted” might be a little over the top, but let’s deal with the facts. In 1996, Congress passed a welfare reform bill that made work a mandatory requirement for all recipients. Not only that, but the framers of the bill understood that the requirement would have no teeth if the Department of Health and Human Services could simply grant a waiver to the requirement whenever a state asked. So they wrote the law very specifically to prevent that from happening. Requirements that could be waived were listed in Section 1115 of the law. If it’s not in Section 1115, it can’t be waived.

The work requirements are in Section 407. The Congress led by my friend Newt Gingrich did this very intentionally, so that no future administration that didn’t like the work requirement could waive it!

What the Obama Administration has done, in a memo from HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, is announce its willingness to waive the requirements in Section 407 – the section containing the work requirements. Now, according to the law, they can’t do that. But the Obama Administration loves to do things the law says they can’t do, then dare anyone who has a problem with it to take them to court.

They claim this is only to provide flexibility, and flexibility is good in many cases. But the law is clear: There is to be no flexibility when it comes to Section 407 work requirements, because if these requirements can be waived, then the requirement has no teeth and is essentially null and void.

Regardless of who asks for waivers or what they are told, what the Obama Administration has done here is declare that it does not consider itself bound to the work requirements written into Section 407, and expressly forbidden from being waived. Unless they are ordered by a court to back off this position, the work requirements written into the law are no longer mandatory.

That was my position on Wednesday and it’s my position today. Because those are the facts.