Rick Santorum Finds Obama in ‘Contempt for the Rule of Law’

140139782 Rick Santorum Finds Obama in Contempt for the Rule of Law

Rick Santorum (Photo: Getty)

Former senator and presidential candidate Rick Santorum held a press conference call today in which he described President Barack Obama’s policies on welfare as part of a “pattern” of the president’s “contempt for the Constitution” and “contempt for the rule of law.” He also said the president’s decision to offer states waivers lessening the requirements for people to apply for welfare funds as proof “the president doesn’t believe in the American people.”

“The president’s acted with contempt for the law … absolute contempt for the law and for the Constitution,” Mr. Santorum said. “For the president to act in this fashion, to act with contempt for the people’s laws and the people’s Constitution as he has done here, and by the way, he has done on repeated occasions over the past several months in office on immigration, on his healthcare law and some other things.”

Mr. Santorum’s conference call was part of a weeklong offensive staged by the Republican Party and the Romney campaign attacking President Obama for trying to “gut” the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. The accusation is based on a directive issued last month by the Department of Health and Human Services allowing states to apply for waivers lowering the requirements necessary for applicants to qualify for aid through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. These requirements include things like job training programs and attendance in secondary school. The Obama campaign has responded by arguing the waivers simply give states flexibility to identify the best welfare programs for their needs in this difficult economic climate and that the waivers don’t weaken the welfare-to-work requirement, because states that receive them are required to increase the job placement rate among aid recipients by at least 20 percent.

On his conference call, Mr. Santorum said he and his colleagues in Congress “specifically said in that law that no waivers would be allowed” when the Welfare Reform Act was originally enacted. He suggested that, rather than having HHS offer the waivers, the president should have “worked in a bipartisan way” if he wanted to “strengthen the work requirement or somehow change it to make it a better work requirement.”

“The president, if he was concerned about the work requirement, it certainly could be worked in a bipartisan way, because we’ve always worked in a bipartisan way on these work requirements,” said Mr. Santorum.

Mr. Santorum described supporting welfare reform as an act of faith in the American people and suggested the president’s actions show he doesn’t believe in “people being able to rise.”

“I can tell you that a number of people, both in my office and the people I talked to when I was senator for Pennsylvania who went through the welfare system as reformed, who thanked me, who said, ‘I would have never thought I would have thanked you for making me do this, but I now thank you for forcing me to do things that I didn’t think I could do … Thank you for challenging me and believing in me,’” Mr. Santorum said. “The president doesn’t believe in the American people and people being able to rise, otherwise he would not have done this waiver.”