Despite mounting complaints from conservatives, the Obama Administration’s announcement yesterday that it will give states waivers to run demonstration projects in their TANF programs will not kill or undermine welfare reform. Indeed, it will strengthen welfare reform by giving states greater flexibility to test more effective strategies for helping recipients prepare for, find, and retain jobs — and measure their accomplishments in more meaningful ways than the current system allows.
The conservative complaints are ironic, to say the least. For one thing, they beg an obvious question: why would anyone oppose efforts to merely test whether there are better ways to connect people to jobs? For another, the complaints are coming from some of the same people who usually argue for giving states more power to run programs and who often seek state waivers in other programs.