Jul 132012

There is a need for clarification. Yes, the Department and Health and Human Services (HSS) announced the agency will issue waivers for the federal work requirement of the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program. But no, individuals can’t apply for a waiver from the work requirements. It is for the states. The HHS announcement enables a state to apply for a waiver from enforcing work requirements if the state wants to test new approaches “designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”

Further the memo stated, “The Secretary [of HHS] is interested in using her authority to approve waiver demonstrations to challenge states to engage in a new round of innovation that seeks to find more effective mechanisms for helping families succeed in employment.”

Basically, the Feds are encouraging the states to be creative, innovative, and cutting edge. So, what’s the problem? The problem is — government, at any level, can’t be creative, innovative and cutting edge. Additionally, what’s wrong with what we’ve got? The current work requirement already lends itself to a somewhat broad interpretation.

Let’s start with the term work requirement. That is misleading. The requirement for most people is 35 hours of “work activities.” What are work activities? Clearly a job fits the bill. Most would also agree that job search activity and work experience initiatives like job placement and on-the-job-training programs qualify. Is there more?

Well, the Feds also include community service. Hm, mm, that’s kind of a reach — but okay.

And they include providing child care for someone doing community service. Huh? Wait a second.

Come on, I stretched for community service. You want me to buy into defining “work activities” as providing child care for someone’s tots? I’m not sure I can go there. In fact, I know I can’t.

Legitimate child care, as everyone knows, requires a license. And insurance. And probably union membership. I’ll play along and skip advertising, bank accounts, signs and phones. But child care without a license, without insurance and without any other requirements established by law, isn’t child care — it’s baby-sitting. Spin it how you want. There’s no way I’ll ever agree that looking after your sister’s, or brother’s or neighbor’s kids is “work activity” that meets a welfare work requirement.

But that’s how liberals want it. How about you?

And that, crusaders, brings us to the problem with the supreme ruler’s new declaration. We already pay people to baby-sit. How much more innovative can we get?

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