Romney ad: Obama welfare change leads to 'cycle of dependency'

Mitt Romney's campaign released a new Web video Tuesday, using the story of Danny Vargas, the former national chairman of the Republican National Hispanic Assembly to again hammer President Obama on changes to welfare policy.

The ad reiterates an attack that has become a familiar refrain from the Romney campaign in campaign stops and advertisements: that recent changes to the federal welfare program that provide waivers to the states have stripped out the work requirement central to the Clinton-era reforms.

Vargas, who grew up on welfare in New York City, shares his experience on camera as images of his family and city housing projects appear across the screen.


"My mother never learned to read or write, so she didn’t have any real skills to fall back on. So she ended up on the welfare system, and that’s how I grew up," Vargas says. "President Obama is stripping the work requirement out of welfare. I think the problem with that is there’s been so many success stories since the welfare reform of the '90s.”

As conservative news accounts and think tank reports appear across the screen, Vargas says welfare reforms helped "families that might otherwise have stayed stuck in that cycle of dependency."

"They saw a different possibility. Taking it away brings us back to that situation. The unintended consequences of a well-meaning program of the 1960s was that families ended up getting stuck in that cycle of dependency," Vargas says.

The Web ad comes after the Romney campaign released its third consecutive television commercial on the subject Monday — and a day after being directly chastised by the president for "making stuff up" in the welfare attacks.

The Obama administration has argued that the waivers criticized by the Romney campaign are intended to give states greater flexibility in the implementation of the program, and noted that the memo specifically advises that only plans that will put more welfare recipients to work would be considered. 

Independent fact-checkers and some Republicans have agreed, with the Annenberg Public Policy Center's calling the Romney attack ads "simply untrue."

"You have Gov. Romney creating as a centerpiece of his campaign this notion that we are taking the work requirement out of welfare," said Obama during a press conference at the White House. "What he is arguing is that we have somehow changed the work requirement in our welfare laws. And, in fact, what has happened was that my administration, responding to the requests of five governors, including two Republican governors, agreed to approve giving them, those states, some flexibility in how they manage the welfare rolls as long as it produced 20 percent increases in the number of people who are getting work."

The Obama campaign released an ad of its own earlier this month rejecting Romney’s attacks.

"See this? Mitt Romney claiming the president would end welfare's work requirements? The New York Times calls it 'blatantly false.' The Washington Post says, 'The Obama administration is not removing the bill's work requirements at all,' " the narrator says.

Romney is expected to fundraise in Texas on Tuesday, but running mate Paul Ryan is slated to hold two events in Pennsylvania. Ryan plans to attack the president on proposed cuts to military spending, highlighting jobs that could be lost with scale-backs to the Pentagon budget.