Letter to the Editor: Only Congress Has Power to Rewrite Welfare Law

Re: "The truth about welfare reform," Aug. 27

Steve Chapman was right that the Obama administration has "opened the door to changes in welfare reform that could destroy it from within" by undermining work requirements for welfare recipients.

In a July memo, the Obama administration flouted the text, structure and purpose of the 1996 welfare reform law by claiming the authority to waive its work requirements. But those work requirements are the law's linchpin and cannot be waived.

The administration defends waivers as a progressive change that will supposedly help welfare recipients and their career prospects. But that idea clashes with the "work first" philosophy behind welfare reform. Congress has the power to rewrite laws, not the president and his aides. Moreover, any growth in the number of welfare recipients getting a job might simply be due to more people going on welfare in the first place in response to such waivers.