Updated at 10:35 am EDT
Mitt Romney plans to shift his focus to welfare this week, assailing President Barack Obama for eliminating some of the work requirements of the 1996 welfare reform bill.
His campaign will unveil a new advertisement about the issue today, and Romney plans to highlight the issue in appearances in Illinois and Iowa this week. He campaigns in Obama’s home-state llinois today.
Obama’s plan “guts welfare reform,” The Romney campaign ad claims.
“Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check,” says an announcer in the ad. “And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare.”
The attack is another effort to link the Obama administration to the still struggling economy.
“Middle-class Americans are working harder and harder to make ends meet,” said Romney press secretary Andrea Saul. “And now, President Obama wants to take their hard-earned tax dollars and give it to welfare recipients without work requirements.”
Lis Smith, spokeswoman for the Obama campaign, said in response:“The president is giving states additional flexibility only if they move more people from welfare to work – not fewer.”
For the past few weeks, Romney has been slamming Obama for permitting states to apply for waivers exempting some welfare beneficiaries from some work requirements spelled out in the welfare law championed by President Bill Clinton. While the work requirement would remain, the waivers aim to give states greater flexibility in administering the program in order to encourage experimentation with ways to improve the number of people moving from government support to jobs.
That’s a tricky line of attack for Romney, who joined Republican governors in 2005 to lobby for a bill that would have allowed similar modifications to the welfare program. The former Massachusetts governor signed on to a letter from the Republican Governors Association to congressional leadership specifically advocating for a Senate bill that would grant states “increased waiver authority” of their welfare requirements.