Ohio GOP Gov. John Kasich takes to the NY Times in an op-ed where he complains that his own chief legislative accomplishment from his time in the House, the 1996 Welform Reform Bill, was a failure. It's just not his fault, he'll tell you, even though his claim to fame as a fiscal conservative was writing this bill 20 years ago.
TWO decades ago, Republicans and Democrats in Congress came together to make historic changes to our nation’s welfare program, working to strike the right balance between helping people in need while setting standards for personal responsibility. Twenty years ago today, President Bill Clinton signed their bill into law, famously declaring, “Today, we are ending welfare as we know it.”
Many people in both parties will look at this anniversary as a reason to celebrate one of the greatest legislative achievements of the 1990s. But I’m here to tell you that it didn’t work — our welfare system still isn’t doing what it’s supposed to.
I should know. In 1996, as a Republican representative from Ohio and the chairman of the House Budget Committee, I was proud to be part of the bipartisan team that overhauled our federal welfare system. These reforms, for the first time, introduced personal accountability into the welfare equation and began moving America down a better path by imposing lifetime limits on cash benefits, requiring recipients to work or get training and giving flexibility to states in shaping their own welfare programs to meet their particular needs.
But today, it’s clear that our welfare system is still deeply flawed, thanks in part to later changes from Washington. In 2005, Congress pulled power back from the states, reducing local flexibility by enforcing a one-size-fits-all approach that sets arbitrary time limits on education and training for people seeking sustainable employment. As a result, too many lives are thrown away by a rigid and counterproductive system that treats an individual as a number, not as a person who is desperate to gain new skills and opportunities in life.
Let's break this down: first of all, as Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Kasich would have been (and was) the numbers guy on the Welfare Reform bill. Second, who controlled Congress and the White House in 2005? That would be the Republican party itself that made the very changes Kasich is complaining about.
Kasich goes on to detail the workarounds and waivers he wants in Ohio, but let's not forget that in his recent presidential campaign Kasich ran chiefly on a balanced budget amendment, which would have drastically cut federal spending on the very same welfare programs he's complaining about not working for Ohio.
So it's hard to take Kasich's complaints seriously when he was a major author of the legislation he's moaning about, even more so when his own party made the situation worse by his own admission, and triply so when as President he was calling for making the situation of states like Ohio even more awful with a federal balanced budget amendment.
But that's Kasich for you.