GAO said the administration acted illegally. End of story.I did.
A more nuanced view comes from Ron Haskins, who was instrumental in crafting the original law. He told our colleagues at Wonkblog that the concept of the waivers is a good one, though the process used by the administration was unfair. “It might not be illegal,” he said. “But [HHS] didn’t even consult with the Republicans. They knew the spirit of the law, and they violated that.”
In other words, we are mainly talking about a process foul and poor coordination with Congress. One of the main critics of the waivers, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), conceded as much when the Salt Lake Tribune noted that the administration said it was responding to a request from the Republican governor of Hatch’s state.
“Hatch does not believe that HHS has the legal authority to waive TANF work rules,” Hatch spokesman Matt Harakal told the Tribune. “This is a completely different issue than giving states flexibility through a regular reauthorization of TANF.”
It is also important to note that no waivers have yet been issued. The Romney campaign ad goes much too far when it suggests Obama has already taken action to “drop work requirements.” The ad further states that “under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and you wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”
Here, the Romney campaign is asserting an extreme interpretation of what might happen under these rules, but it is certainly not based on any specific “Obama plan.” (The Romney campaign often cries foul when Obama offers his own interpretation of still-vague Romney plans.) What really matters are the plans submitted by governors — and, as our colleague Greg Sargent noted, the two Republican governors seeking waivers issued statements saying they were not planning to weaken work requirements.
Spin and counterspin in the welfare debate - The Washington Post