Add Rick Santorum to the list of Republicans who are outraged that the Obama administration is offering states more flexibility on welfare standards.
Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, accused Obama of abusing his power by placing "way too much authority" in the office of the president, citing the recent policy change by the administration that could change how states administer welfare.
"Going out and saying 'I'm going to change the law on welfare,' 'I'm going to eliminate the work requirement,' something that we fought for, President Clinton signed ... probably the single greatest accomplishment social welfare wise in the last 20 years and President Obama gets up and says, 'nope, I'm going to change the law' by speaking. This sounds like a two-bit dictator, not a president of the United States," said Santorum in an interview with ABC News's Jonathan Karl.
"You do not change the law by speaking," he added.
Santorum went on to compare Obama to Mussolini, saying, "My grandfather left Il Duce in Italy, who could get up and change the law by giving a speech ... we do not need another person who thinks that they can simply get up, give a speech, change the law and then dare the Congress."
Even by Santorum standards, this is deeply dumb. Republican governors asked for work-requirement flexibility, and the Obama administration granted their request. Isn't this the kind of move the right likes?
Santorum said Obama eliminating the work requirement, but he's confused or lying. The requirements will still exist, but states can now "experiment with ways to improve the number of people making the jump from government assistance to jobs." What's more, it's voluntary -- if states want to take advantage of the new flexibility, fine; if not, that's fine, too.
Best of all, the White House noted today that in 2005, several Republican governors specifically asked for exactly the kind of welfare flexibility Obama is now offering. On the list: Mitt Romney, Jeb Bush, and Haley Barbour. Even Mike Huckabee was on the list, and yesterday, he threw a tantrum on Fox. Were all of them encouraging a Mussolini-style of government?
Peter Edelman, who served as assistant secretary of HHS under Clinton, characterized the right's outrage as "beyond fictional." And yet, it continues unabated.