BROOKE GLADSTONE: So have we well and truly reached the point when, contrary to Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s famous dictum, we are entitled to our own facts?
ANNOUNCER: President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job; they just send you your welfare check.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: The Romney camp has called this its most effective ad, but PolitiFact awarded it a Pants on Fire rating for deception. The Washington Post fact-checker gave it four Pinocchios, and fact-checkers have also found the Obama response to the ad, accusing Romney of being two-faced on the issue, false as well. That got three Pinocchios.
Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu this week nominated Mitt Romney for President at the Republican National Convention. We couldn’t get anyone from the Romney campaign, so we called on him to give us his insight on what’s going on.
JOHN SUNUNU: With all due respect to the quote, “fact-checkers” that have called that ad wrong, they don’t know what they’re talking about. Let me explain to you why they’re wrong. That law was written specifically by a Republican Congress to make sure that a, a governor could not get waivers from the work component. President Clinton vetoed it twice over that provision that prohibited allowing anybody to grant waivers on the work component. The fact-checkers just don’t know what they’re talking about.
I as a governor was part of the process that led up to this with the National Governors Association, on a bipartisan basis, having Republican governors and Democratic governors lobbying for this kind of stuff. And what has been done by the memo from Health and Human Services that has gone out there, literally begging governors to ask for waivers on the workfare component is gutting the process. And if the President says that’s not true, once again, the President of the United States is lying.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: What you said to Wolf Blitzer was you want to avoid language that encourages or permits people to do soft sell studies –
JOHN SUNUNU: That’s correct.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: - or look for work on the Internet, instead of going to an employer.
JOHN SUNUNU: That’s correct.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Under the waivers, in some cases, that could happen. Given how cash-strapped a lot of these states are, it’s unlikely. But in any case –
JOHN SUNUNU: The fact that you now acknowledge that that can happen, after the law was written to prohibit permitting that to happen, you have underscored what Mitt Romney is saying. The President of the United States has broken the law by extending waiver capacity for things that were deliberately excluded by the people who wrote the law, and everything else is irrelevant.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: However shady the Obama administration may have been by calling for this waiver under one provision of the bill, as opposed to another provision [LAUGHS] where the waivers are banned, I concede this was not a very – proper process in any way. It is still a long way from that to the assertion that you wouldn’t have to train for a job, “they just send you your welfare check.”
JOHN SUNUNU: It allows them to go in that direction in violation of the restriction of the law that said they could not go that far. And that’s the whole point. It is what governors, Republican and Democrats, felt had to be done to deal with the welfare needs of the country. And, as Rick Santorum pointed out last night, what it has done is increased work for those who in the past never had hopes to getting work. It provided the real training for them and the real entre into the workplace. And for this President to gut it that way is unconscionable.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: This is the problem when everyone has the right to their own facts.
JOHN SUNUNU: Ma’am, you weren’t involved – you weren’t involved in writing the law. Rick Santorum was. You weren’t involved in writing the law. Speaker Gingrich was. You weren’t involved in fighting to make sure that a provision for waivers was not in the law. These people were, and they have attested to the fact, and the weasel wording that comes out of the President of the United States and NPR is not gonna change those facts. I’ve enjoyed being on the air. I’ve got to go to my next call.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Why didn’t the ad refer to waivers, rather than no longer having to work? Why not say what it is the President actually did?
JOHN SUNUNU: If you say that the ad is perfectly right with adding waivers, then you’re acknowledging the fact that the President broke the law by granting waivers.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: I think the ad is wrong.
JOHN SUNUNU: As, as usual, you, part of the liberal press that will cover this President’s butt across the board, you’re going to lose in November. But I’ve enjoyed talking to you. Thank you.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: That was former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu. It’s true, as he said, I didn’t write the welfare law he claims the President gutted. Republican legislators like Newt Gingrich did. Newt Gingrich repeated the gutting welfare line at the Republican National Convention, but here he is a little earlier, with Anderson Cooper.
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ANDERSON COOPER: You, you do think that the actual wording under Obama’s plan that you wouldn’t have to train for a job, they just send you your welfare, that is not factually correct.
NEWT GINGRICH: We have – we have no proof today, but I would say to you under, under Obama’s ideology it is absolutely true that he would be comfortable sending a lot of people checks for doing nothing.
BROOKE GLADSTONE: Coming up, is Florida really as weird as it seems? This is On the Media.