Newt Gingrich, who negotiated a welfare reform bill with President Bill Clinton when he was Speaker of the House, described President Obama’s new rule undermining that law as “almost certainly illegal.”

“Obama’s suspension of workfare requirements is almost certainly illegal, a sign of the jobs failure, and a reminder how liberal [O]bama is,” Gingrich tweeted this morning following a report from the Heritage Foundation that the Health and Human Services Department had “released an official policy directive rewriting the welfare reform law of 1996.”

Gingrich added that “President [C]linton and the [R]epublican [C]ongress created a bipartisan work oriented reform of welfare,” in a second tweet. “Obama has single handedly destroyed it,” Gingrich said.

Obama’s new rule “allows the Department of Health and Human Services to waive the work requirement at the heart of welfare reform,” as The Washington Examiner’s Byron York explains.  “That reform, originally vetoed but later signed into law by President Bill Clinton, is widely viewed as the most successful policy initiative in a generation.  Under it, the growth in welfare rolls was reversed and millions of people moved from welfare to work.”

Romney attacked Obama over the policy change. “The president’s action is completely misdirected,” the Republican presidential candidate said in a statement to York. “Work is a dignified endeavor, and the linkage of work and welfare is essential to prevent welfare from becoming a way of life.”

The new welfare policy follows reports that the United States Department of Agriculture is trying to expand food stamp enrollment regardless of financial need in order to fight obesity. “USDA’s activities suggest that the program administrators take personal offense when people who technically qualify for their largesse decline to accept—and see it as an obstacle to overcome,” Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., said yesterday.