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Santorum: Obama showed ‘contempt for the Constitution’ with welfare change

President Barack Obama’s change to federal welfare-to-work requirements reveals his contempt for the law and the public and his desire to increase the public’s dependency on government, Rick Santorum said Thursday.

“I think it is a political move… (to tell some voters) ‘We’re not going have these tough requirements and we’re going to provide a waiver’ … for a whole group of people,” said the former Pennsylvania senator during a press call hosted by the Republican National Committee.

Santorum did not label or characterize the voters that would favor a rollback of the popular work-requirements in the successful 1996 welfare reform law.

Santorum’s conference came as GOP leaders, including Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, try to focus public attention on the administration’s changes in implementing the 1996 law.

“What the president is trying to do is turn back the clock [to before 1996 because] he wants to do what he has done with every other entitlement program in the country — put more people on [welfare] and increase dependency,” said Santorum, who ran against Romney for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination.

Santorum said that Obama’s attempted re-write is illegal, and violates the Constitution’s limit on presidential authority.

That’s likely to hurt Obama’s re-election chances, he suggested.

“His contempt for the Constitution, his contempt for the rule of law (is) a pattern that I think people are concerned about and will be concerned about,” he said.

The 1996 welfare reform law was carefully written to prevent future presidents from weakening work requirements, Santorum said.

But the administration announced in June that it was wiling to waive the law’s work requirements for states that propose “demonstration projects.”

That June 12 announcement prompted Mitt Romney’s campaign to portray the administration as eager to “gut” the work requirements.

Obama’s deputies have furiously criticized Romney’s campaign, and argue that the June proposal is intended to boost welfare-to-work rates.

But Obama’s push-back is hobbled by the text of the June 12 decision, which tells states they could replace mandated work requirements with education programs, job training or government-funded jobs.

“The following are examples of projects that states may want to consider… projects under which a state would count individuals in (welfare)-subsidized jobs… projects that test systematically extending the period in which vocational educational training or job search/readiness programs count toward participation rates… such as an extended training period for those pursuing a credential,” said the announcement.

Before the welfare reform, “there was a sense (in the public) that taxpayers were supporting people for the long-term who were perfectly capable of working and were unwilling to work,” Santorum said.

That “created a lot of resentment in the minds of taxpayers,” until the reform proved to be a success, he added.

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