Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Shameless, part 2

The latest Romney attack on the Obama administration is based on stories that began appearing on right wing websites about three weeks ago, stories that have been thoroughly debunked and discredited since that time. Basically, the story is that by granting states more flexibility in implementing federal welfare programs, HHS is seeking a way to eliminate the program's work requirements. Problem is, that the waivers are not available unless the states demonstrate equally effective means of moving welfare recipients to work. So the charge is false.

Not only is it false, it is hypocritical, in that Romney himself, when he was governor of Massachusetts, pushed for greater flexibility at the state level in administering federal welfare programs, supporting the same kinds of waivers he is now attacking.

And not only is the charge hypocritical, it is also completely inconsistent with supposedly bedrock Republican principles that support the weakening of the heavy hand of the federal government and granting more latitude and power to the states. How dare the Romney campaign attack HHS for doing the very thing that Republicans have been pushing for years. Instead of detailed mandates as to how the states must administer federal programs, it has always been the Republican position that federal social assistance programs--Medicare, Medicaid, housing assistance, education, welfare, etc.--adopt more of a block grant model. Now when the Obama administration is moving in exactly that direction. at the request, by the way, of Republican governors in Utah and Nevada, the states where the waivers were granted, they are being attacked for "gutting" welfare reform.

You can bet that if the the Obama administration had DENIED the requests of Utah and Nevada for waivers, we would be hearing the more traditional Republican battle cry about the heavy hand of the federal government, states' rights, blah blah blah. So hats off to the Romney campaign for showing the creativity to find a way to attack Obama for doing exactly what Romney and fellow Republicans have been requesting for years. Nice job trying to stir up the resentments that conservative politicians used to rely upon back in the 1960's and 1970's about welfare queens and other loafers supposedly supported in lavish style by the federal government, at the expense of hard-working taxpayers. I hope the geniuses in the Romney campaign are proud of themselves. I wonder if they slap each other on the back and offer congratulations for getting reviews like the one that appeared in Time today:
How incompetent is the Romney campaign? They keep coming up with these stupid gambits–the last was the lie that Obama opposed early voting for members of the military in Ohio–that are shot down instantaneously (everywhere but in Fox-Rush land).

My guess is that this kind of attack is not going to work this year--and not only because it is false and hypocritical and inconsistent, and stupid. It's also mean, and in tough economic times it just seems less likely that the average person is going to blame the most downtrodden already among us for our economic problems. Then again, Romney can't exactly run against the people that the average American does blame for our problems, for that would require him to run against himself and his cronies. So Romney, sadly, must feel he has no choice but to stir up old resentments and rely on false claims, to have any chance of success.

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