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Debating welfare vs. debating jobs

MSNBC Contributor and frequent Last Word guest, Jared Bernstein has a great piece about the new "debate" on welfare. I use the term "debate" loosely because what we are really talking about is a Romney campaign ad attacking the president for eliminating the work requirement in federal welfare law.

As Last Word substitute host Alex Wagner explained earlier this week, the attack is really just a distortion of the actual policy which is a waiver granted by the White House to five Governors, including two Republicans, who wanted more flexibility in how they run their programs.

Jared makes the point that if we had more jobs in those states, they wouldn't need the flexibility and we can't create more jobs by constantly cutting spending. "Now, ask yourself, if we were actually debating welfare-to-work as opposed to playing phony gotchas, wouldn't these initiatives be planks of the Republican platform?"

You can read Jared's Piece here or click through and read an excerpt.

Mitt Romney’s welfare reform attack ad has by now been thoroughly rebutted. The President has a consistent record of being pro-work on welfare—I don’t believe anyone’s ever heard him say anything to the contrary. So hopefully, this little bit of gotcha will soon fade.

But I’m here to make a different point about this latest kerfuffle, one that’s been overlooked but shines some relevant light on candidates’ policy positions on the issue of welfare reform.

Welfare-to-work doesn’t work without jobs . So if you want to evaluate the candidates or the parties based on how committed they are to work-based welfare, check out their commitment to helping low-income parents find jobs.

It sounds terribly obvious, I know, but if you pay any attention to this debate, you know that this simple reality is constantly overlooked.

Click to Continue to Jared's LeanForward Commentary