“While the TANF work participation requirements are contained in section 407, section 402(a)(1)(A)(iii) requires that the state plan “[e]nsure that parents and caretakers receiving assistance under the program engage in work activities in accordance with section 407.” Thus, HHS has authority to waive compliance with this 402 requirement and authorize a state to test approaches and methods other than those set forth in section 407, including definitions of work activities and engagement, specified limitations, verification procedures, and the calculation of participation rates. As described below, however, HHS will only consider approving waivers relating to the work participation requirements that make changes intended to lead to more effective means of meeting the work goals of TANF.”
So the answer lies in the intent of the Secretary of HHS and all future secretaries. This could be the perfect shade of grey for arguments unending. It pits Congress against the Executive Branch – is this breaking the law or an appropriate administrative ruling? It pits conservative against progressive – she is eliminating the work standard; no she is strengthen it. And of course it pits Romney versus Obama – you cancelled the work requirement, I did not. Did too. Did not. It even pits fact checker against fact checker. When the bureaucracy is complex, the language is muddy and it comes down to personal intent, then one sees what one wants to see.
So we argue on. How does this help move people out of poverty? Stay tuned. Or not.