In 1996, Republicans forced through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) bill, also known as welfare reform. It incentivized states to create welfare-to-work programs, trying to transition Americans from government dependency to financial solvency. But states quickly acted to poke holes in that legislation, calling the following activities “work” for purposes of the statute: bed rest, personal care activities, massage, exercise, journaling, motivational reading, smoking cessation, weight loss promotion, participation in parent-teacher meetings, or helping friends or family with household tasks and errands.
This was idiotic. So in 2005, Congress closed the loophole, over the objections of then-Senator Obama.
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