The Trump administration is officially removing a welfare waiver program implemented by President Obama in 2012, restoring the 90’s-era reform law that required individuals on the public dole to prove they were engaged in work or work-related activities.
“The waiver option offered by the Obama administration is being replaced today by an expectation that work should always be encouraged as a condition for receiving welfare,” said Health and Human Services’ Steven Wagner on Wednesday.
The move is being celebrated by conservatives who saw Trump’s predecessor make multiple moves to eliminate the welfare reform work requirement. Obama’s efforts, which were an ineffective attempt at responding to the sluggish recovery, ultimately generated little response. Only Ohio applied for such a waiver, and that waiver sat unanswered for two years by the previous administration. Upon announcing the changes, HHS also denied Ohio its long-standing application.
A spokesperson for House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady applauded Trump’s move.
“Chairman Brady believes that work requirements are essential to providing Americans with real paths out of poverty and up the economic ladder,” said the spokesperson. “Today’s action by the Trump administration ties in seamlessly to the work that he and the committee are doing to deliver policy solutions that truly improve the lives of American families nationwide.”
On the ground, almost nothing will change in the way individual states hand out welfare benefits, seeing as how Obama’s controversial waiver program was never actually utilized. Still, it is a relief for many Republicans to see this policy off the books.
In a statement, Office of Family Assistance Director Clarence Carter said that it was important to keep public benefits tied to work requirements.
“Our agency is committed to helping low-income families transition from welfare to work,” said Carter. “We cannot achieve the goal of self-sufficiency if meaningful work participation is divorced from welfare cash assistance.”
Considering the lack of real-world effects that Obama’s waiver program had, this move by the HHS will go largely unnoticed and unreported. It is not, by any stretch, a major achievement by the Republican administration. Still, it is important to chip away at the liberal Obama legacy from every angle available, and that includes making small adjustments like this one. Welfare isn’t a subject that gets as much attention these days as it used to, but it’s important that we restrain the purse of government in as many ways as possible. Kudos to the Trump administration for keeping their eyes glued to the ball, even when the hits are singles.