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SPOTLIGHT
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Obama will come calling for change

Published on -8/6/2012, 9:37 AM

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The Obama administration came to Washington with much fanfare promising "change."

I'm beginning to think that change is all that's going to be left in our pockets after the president's policies are enacted. More taxes, new regulations and hefty fines are all fair game under this president.

Let me give you one new example that just became public.

The Obama administration and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius recently released new guidelines to the states regarding a welfare program called the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.

You might recall the 1996 welfare reform bill ended welfare as an entitlement. It allowed states, which administer the TANF program, to have the authority to create "welfare-to-work" programs.

Welfare-to-work programs encourage recipients to try to get back on their own two feet as soon as possible. In order to receive welfare benefits, recipients must demonstrate efforts to work, improve their jobs skills or obtain further education.

Unfortunately, some states (not Kansas) abused this system in recent years and were willing to count things like smoking cessation, bed rest, journaling and exercise as work requirements so that more people could continue to receive assistance.

I am certain this is not the kind of "work" taxpayers had in mind.

Just last month, HHS determined it had the authority to waive welfare-to-work requirements for the states so that bed rest and journaling would be acceptable standards for all. And the American taxpayer will pick up the tab.

At this rate, can we be far off from taxpayer-funded yoga?

Beyond the ridiculousness, there is also a possible unintended consequence of this unilateral administrative action. It is possible this TANF waiver could increase the number of households now eligible for food stamps, now officially known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

That would be another very expensive precedent to set. As the top Republican on the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, which oversees federal nutrition programs, I have asked the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture for a thorough analysis of what this may mean for the taxpayer.

At a time when our nation is $16 trillion in debt, and the nation ranks economic and budget issues at the top of their concerns, we must be much more careful stewards of the federal purse. This action flies in the face of that. You'll be left to pay the tab -- so save your change. The Obama administration needs it.

Sen. Pat Roberts, Dodge City, represents Kansas in the U.S. Senate.

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