Governor Rick Snyder (R-MI) as much as admitted that Mitt Romney’s race-baiting claim that President Obama is “gutting” work requirements in the welfare program is a load of manure.
He didn’t use those words, of course, but when Tom Brokaw asked Snyder about the program at the Republican convention this afternoon, the governor had only positive things to say about it.
This is the same program that Romney insists Obama is using to “shore up his base.” (Read: black people.) As one of Romney’s five welfare ads says, “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you a welfare check. And welfare-to-work goes back to being plain old welfare.”
To back up, the Obama administration recently announced that states could apply for waivers from the 1996 welfare reform law in order to find alternative ways to help welfare recipients find work. Nothing is gutted, the work requirement stands, and in fact, in2005, 29 governors—including Governor Romney—asked for even more flexibility in how they applied the welfare law.
What’s not to like? Governor Synder practically said on Andrea Mitchell’s MSNBC show today, from Tampa.
BROKAW: A number of people have looked at [Obama’s] program and have said, ‘Look, he’s responding to what the governors wanted; they wanted more flexibility in how they administer these programs, and he’s really responding to what they asked for. So my question to you is, has what President Obama done for welfare in the state of Michigan—has that given you more flexibility and are you happy with those policies in that regard?
SNYDER: We are still fully analyzing it. The concept of flexibility for governors is a good thing, but I think there should be performance metrics. We should be held accountable for performance, but [with] flexibility on how to do it…
Brokaw didn’t remind him that metrics and accountability are built into the new initiative (if the states don’t move more people into jobs by at least 20 percent, the waiver will be denied or rescinded). Nor did Brokaw exactly ask, Isn’t Romney’s whole welfare ad campaign a big fat lie (that word is not in his MSM vocabulary), but he did approach the subject:
BROKAW: But the real question is, do you think that President Obama, in responding to what the governors wanted in terms of flexibility, in how they administer the welfare program, has sent a signal to the welfare community that you don’t have to work for it anymore? Or has he responded specifically and explicitly to what the governors wanted?
Snyder, aware that he had stuck a toe or two off the reservation, hedged, “Well, that’s one of the things, the message could be read both ways depending on what—”
Luckily for him, Mitchell cut to a Ron Paul sighting on the convention floor, thus blunting the logical conclusion one would have to draw: the only reason to even bring welfare into this campaign, in 2012, is to drum up more white votes. Romney is blowing a trumpet, not merely a dog whistle, to suggest that Obama is taking tax dollars from hard-working white people to give to undeserving, lazy black people.
Synder isn’t the only Republican governor who not so secretly likes Obama’s move but in the Soviet GOP system must pretend otherwise. Two Republican governors who had previously asked for the waiver, Utah Governor Gary Herbert and Nevada Governor Brian Sandova, tried to walk it all back.
Governor Herbert pretended as if he had deep procedural misgivings over the very waiver he requested. Herbert, writes TPM,
stopped short of echoing Romney’s claim that Obama is gutting the essence of the law, and championed the idea of state flexibility.
“Some of the concern was that by executive order, some things were being done that ought to, in fact, be done by Congress,” he told the Huffington Post. “So having the executive run around the Congress is not the right way to do it.”
GovernorSandoval’s office claimed his request for flexibility was not actually a request for a waiver.
“Nevada hasn’t requested a waiver and has no intention of requesting one,” his spokeswoman Mary-Sarah Kinner told the Las Vegas Sun. “The letter was not a request for a waiver; it was a request to explore the possibilities.”
UPDATE: Another GOP governor, Sam Brownback of Kansas, has acknowledged that Romney’s welfare ads are false. And Chris Matthews was working away at Ohio governor John Kasich’s unthinking defense of the Big Lie, too.
Here’s the Synder interview, in which he also tries to excuse Romney’s birther “joke.”
Tom Edsall does a great take-down of Romney’s oeuvre of race-baiting ads, on welfare and Medicare both.