Mitt Romney's campaign continued to attack President Barack Obama over welfare reform with the release of a new ad on Monday, once again falsely stating that the president dropped work requirements from welfare.
The ad, titled "Long History," is the second ad from the Romney campaign to claim that Obama has "gutted" welfare. The campaign's previous ad on welfare, released just last week, was widely criticized as inaccurate and debunked by numerous fact checkers.
The Obama administration announced in July that states could seek waivers from certain welfare rules, but in doing so they would have to provide ideas for projects and initiatives that would do a better job of increasing employment among welfare recipients. Furthermore, the Obama administration has made it clear that it would not drop requirements for states that failed to promise better work outcomes.
Yet in the new ad, the narrator states, “On July 12th, Obama quietly ended work requirements for welfare. You wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job.”
Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith responded with the following statement:
If Mitt Romney wants to take politics out of the gutter, he might want to start with his own campaign ads. Independent news organizations, President Clinton, and a Republican author of welfare reform have already called these attacks blatantly dishonest, but Romney’s campaign continues to run with them. Here are the facts: President Obama helped lead the welfare-to-work effort in the Illinois Senate in 1997, drawing praise from his Republican colleagues for his willingness to break with members of his own party. Under the Obama administration’s order, states would only be granted flexibility if they help 20 percent more people find work. And as Governor, Romney supported a policy that would have granted states even more flexibility around work requirements and could even have ended time limits on welfare, which would have ended welfare reform as we know it. Mitt Romney may think his only path to victory is through running dishonest ads like this one, but the American people deserve better.
Newt Gingrich, who oversaw welfare reform in 1996 as House Speaker, admitted that there is "no proof" to Romney's claim that Obama eliminated work requirements from the nation's welfare reform law. And as Smith points out, former President Bill Clinton denounced the Romney campaign's attack as "not true" and "especially disappointing, because as governor of Massachusetts, [Romney] requested changes in the welfare reform laws that could have eliminated time limits altogether."
That the Romney campaign is reiterating the welfare attack for a second consecutive week, despite it being built on an entirely false claim, also contradicts recent comments Romney himself made on the misleading nature of ads in the current election cycle. Last week, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee targeted both Obama and his campaign for continuing to run ads that were "inaccurate," although the ad that prompted Romney's criticism actually came from pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action, an outside group.
"You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad, they were embarrassed," Romney said in a radio interview with Bill Bennett. "Today, they just blast ahead. You know, the various fact-checkers look at some of these charges in the Obama ads and they say that they’re wrong, and inaccurate, and yet he just keeps on running them."
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), who Romney announced on Saturday would be his running mate, also has a complicated history on welfare. As ThinkProgress points out, "In 2002, Ryan folded a provision into a House-backed version of President Bush’s welfare reauthorization bill that provided his home state 'a significant break in meeting new federal work rules,' lowering the work requirement from 70 percent to just 45 percent."
The Romney campaign did not provide specifics on where the ad will air, but according to media monitoring service TVEyes, it hit the airwaves on Monday in Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia and Washington, D.C.