Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Republicans Cannot Be Pleased – Now Oppose Federal Government Ceding More Authority to the States

If Obama Proposes It – "We Republicans Are Against It – Even if We Are For It"

Republicans in general and Conservatives in particular are a very unhappy lot.  The reason for that, it turns out, is that they just can never be pleased.  For example in the 1990’s they bitterly opposed the Clinton health care reform initiative, pushing instead for a program that had mandatory requirements for individual to have health insurance.  But when Mr. Obama adopted their position they rebelled.

These people are adamant about cutting the deficit, but in 2001 when they were handed not just a balanced federal budget but one that had a surplus, they immediately gutted tax revenues and caused the massive deficits that we are experiencing today.  And they supported a Simpson-Bowles type commission, until the President agreed, after which they opposed it.  There’s just no pleasing these folks.

But the big thing with Conservatives want is devolution, power to the states and away from the federal government.  But since Mr. Obama now has joined in that crusade, they are just furious.  In fact they are furious when other Republican Governors are requesting and receiving more authority from the Feds.

The Obama administration has tried to portray many of its policies as giving states more latitude.

It has granted waivers to the 2001 No Child Left Behind education law, which was passed with bipartisan support under President George W. Bush. It also has pushed for speeding up a provision in Mr. Obama's 2010 health overhaul-care law that lets states run their own coverage programs starting in 2017.  Republicans have criticized the administration for not giving states more flexibility to shape the health law.

  Case in point, management of welfare.  Here’s what a group of Republican Governors from very conservative states want to do.

President Bill Clinton signing into law the
 overhaul of the nation's welfare system in the
 White House Rose Garden on Aug. 22,
Associated Press


Under the 1996 law, states are required to document the number of hours that welfare recipients spend in paid jobs, voluntary work or other activities directly related to finding employment. States can lose federal funding for their welfare programs if they don't meet targets for recipients' participation in these activities.

 States have said that such rules are preventing them from running more-effective welfare programs, and the Obama administration said that two states, Utah and Nevada, had specifically asked for waivers from the requirements. Both states have Republican governors.

On Thursday, the Department of Health and Human Services sent states a letter saying they could get a federal waiver to those rules if they proposed better ways to help recipients find permanent, well-paid jobs.

Wow, that sounds just what Republicans want.  And Utah and Nevada are certainly core conservative venues.  So what’s the problem?

But GOP lawmakers and presidential candidate Mitt Romney said the administration was trying to water down the requirements, and was opening the door to letting states count such things as bed rest or going to weight-loss programs.

"Work is a dignified endeavor, and the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life," Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, said in a statement Friday.

And John Boehner has also weighed in.

House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) wrote in a blog post: "By gutting the work requirements in President Clinton's signature welfare-reform law, President Obama is admitting his economic policies have failed."

So what is going on here is basic, base politics.  No matter what Mr. Obama does to adopt the policies of his Republican opponents, they will immediately turn and reject those policies.  Yes they look like fools, but then that’s what people who put politics above all else end up looking like.

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