For two decades, Democrats running for the White House have observed a basic rule: when discussing welfare, do so only in the context of “welfare reform.”

That’s why it was so striking to see President Barack Obama’s campaign depart from that tradition and use the W-word Wednesday without any reference to reining in or overhauling such programs. In fact, the Obama camp seemed to be boasting about welfare’s success in buffeting the impact of the country’s recent economic downturn.

In a list of 29 of Obama’s accomplishments, newly posted on the campaign website, No. 9 is this: “His tax cuts, social-welfare programs, and economic policies lifted nearly 7 million Americans above the federal poverty line in 2010.”

The Obama campaign e-mailed the list out early Thursday with hopes it will go viral. “You should forward this,” the e-mail said.

It’s especially surprising that Obama would be touting expansion of “social-welfare programs,” at least in those exact words, since he’s under attack over that right now from GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

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