Rivals Don't Waver on Waivers; Romney, Obama Take on Health Care, Welfare Reform Laws
Byline: Seth McLaughlin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Mitt Romney is walking a rhetorical tightrope when it comes to presidential waivers.
The presumptive Republican presidential candidate has accused President Obama of running roughshod over federal law by offering states waivers to the work requirements included in 1996's welfare reforms. But the former Massachusetts governor has also pledged to issue, on the first day of a Romney presidency, his own waivers that would allow states to opt out of Mr. Obama's signature Affordable Care Act.
Sharp exchanges last week between the campaigns over waivers to the welfare law provided a glimpse into how both candidates view the power of the presidency and the extent to which the commander in chief can alter or ignore laws passed by Congress.
The Obama administration argued that it was clearly authorized to waive some of the work requirements in the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 - a move that the Department of Health and Human Services said would allow states to devise more effective ways to put more recipients of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) - otherwise known as welfare - to work.
The Romney camp, though, contends that, because the welfare-reform law makes no allowances for waivers in the original legislation, it's outrageous for the Obama administration to claim otherwise.
It is consistent with the Obama administration pattern recently of advancing policies that they can't get through Congress and doing it through executive fiat, regardless of whether they have the legal authority to do so or not, Jonathan Burks, Romney campaign's deputy policy director, said in a conference call with reporters.
Andrew Grossman, of the the Heritage Foundation's Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, agrees the administration is out on a legal limb.
There is absolutely no indication, in the text of the 1996 act or otherwise, that Congress intended to allow the waiver of that act's centerpiece provision: its work requirements, Mr. Grossman wrote last week. Mr. Obama's proposed waivers, Mr. Grossman wrote, are a violation of the law, a violation of the Constitution's vesting of legislative power in the Congress, and a violation of the president's fundamental duty to faithfully carry out the laws. …