Political Radar: Obama Shifts on Welfare Reform ABC News' Teddy Davis and Gregory Wallace Report: Barack Obama aligned himself with welfare reform on Monday, launching a television ad which touts the way the overhaul "slashed the rolls by 80 percent." Obama leaves out, however, that he was against the 1996 federal legislation which precipitated the caseload reduction. The shift in Obama's rhetoric on welfare reform has proceeded in stages. When former President Bill Clinton was poised to sign welfare reform while running for re-election in 1996, Obama called it "disturbing." A decade later, as an underdog running for president against Clinton's wife, he spent 2007 avoiding the subject. By the time Obama emerged as the Democratic frontrunner in the spring of 2008, he began leaving the impression that he was for it all along.