Newspaper Cited In New Romney Attack Ad On Welfare: Charges ‘Debunked By Multiple Independent Fact-Checkers’

Undeterred by his own support for the welfare reform waivers he is now criticizing, Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has released another ad slamming the Obama administration’s decision to give states greater latitude in how they administer the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.

The ad cites a Richmond Times-Dispatch editorial to make the case that Obama’s welfare reform waivers are “nuts,” because, “If you want to get more people to work, you don’t loosen the requirement — you tighten them.” The newspaper’s editorial board did, indeed, pen that sentence in an August 15 editorial that defended the Romney campaign’s earlier ads and agreed with him that the work requirement had indeed been “gutted.” Now, though, the Times-Dispatch is admitting that its own claims — which are central to the Romney ad — have been “debunked”:

The 30-second ad doubles down on the Romney campaign’s claim that Obama ended welfare’s work requirement “gutting welfare reform,” a charge that has been debunked by multiple independent fact-checkers.

Had they done their own reporting instead of relying on the Romney campaign’s advertisements, the Times-Dispatch’s editors wouldn’t have had to wait for three independent fact-checkers to realize that GOP claims that welfare reform had been “gutted” were a blatant lie. The directive outlining the waivers makes it clear that work requirements will remain in place, though states will have more leeway in determining how to get welfare recipients out of the program and into jobs.


The decision to issue waivers was made at the request of multiple Republican governors — Romney himself supported even farther-reaching waivers in 2005 — and is meant to address the program’s struggles. While the Romney ad cites a 1998 Washington Post piece calling TANF an “unprecedented success,” that too has been debunked: the 1996 welfare reform law has failed to help America’s neediest families, and the reduction in the number of people receiving welfare has come largely from kicking people off the rolls, not by getting them jobs.