“They just send you your check.”

If you’ve been watching TV at all these days you are used to being bombarded with political ads as the 2012 presidential election approaches.  Particularly if you’re in a swing state, like I am, the campaigning can be pretty aggressive.  I keep seeing an attack ad regarding welfare.  This ad immediately rubbed me the wrong way, because of its fear-mongering quality.  The ad pits you, the average American, against those in need of governmental assistance.  In spite of the fact that the USA has stricter rules regarding welfare than the United Kingdom, for example, many people have the perception that welfare recipients need to do nothing to earn their benefits.  This ad pushes the buttons of people who feel like their hard earned tax dollars are going to support people who do not deserve it.  Right now, more people than before the recession are in need of governmental assistance jobs become scarce and foreclosures abound.  The first time I saw the ad I wondered, “is this true?”  It certainly didn’t seem like it would be based on my impressions of Obama’s policies.

Screen capture of the Romney attack ad on welfare

So I looked it up.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue of welfare or who you support politically, I think it’s important to examine whether these types of ads are true or not.

I found that Politifact debunks the claims of the Welfare ad.  Rather than limit the work requirements, the current administration wants give states the opportunity to try new methods to satisfy the work requirement that may work better in our currently fragile economy where jobs are few and far between.

Since 1996, welfare has been administered through block grants to states through a program called Temporary Assistance to Needy Families. TANF, as it’s called, limits how long families can get aid and requires recipients to eventually go to work. It also includes stringent reporting requirements for states to show they are successfully moving people off welfare and and into the workforce.

A memo from George Sheldon, the acting assistant secretary at HHS, said the department wanted to give states more flexibility in meeting those requirements. The memo notifies states “of the Secretary’s willingness to exercise her waiver authority … to allow states to test alternative and innovative strategies, policies, and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”

The memo outlined, using the jargon of a federal bureaucracy, the kinds of waivers that would be considered. It suggested projects that “improve collaboration with the workforce and/or post-secondary education systems” and “demonstrate strategies for more effectively serving individuals with disabilities,” to give two examples.

via PolitiFact | Mitt Romney says Barack Obama’s plan for welfare reform: “They just send you your check.”.

In our current political system these types of attack ads are par for the course.  The Democrats as well present half-truths and use speculation in their attack ads.  Politifact, which is non-partisan, also debunks the two ads by Obama for America regarding tax rates and medicare and is a great resource for checking the truth of political claims this election season.

Regardless of how you vote, and I hope that you will vote, the important thing is to know the facts and not blindly follow the ads you see on TV, which focus more on the viewers emotional response than the truth.  Be an educated voter – do the research, check the facts, and read the platforms (linked to below).

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