Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 12, 2016

Paul Ryan Unveils Anti-Poverty Program

Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wi. (Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call Fast File)

(Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled a sweeping anti-poverty proposal Thursday, which aims to streamline federal funding to states.

In a speech at the American Enterprise Institute, Ryan proposed a pilot program that would give participating states an “opportunity grant.” The grant would consolidate funding for 11 federal programs, such as food stamps, housing assistance, child care, etc., into one funding stream to the state.

“In effect, the state would say, give us some space and we can figure this out,” the Wisconsin Republican said Thursday.

Ryan said states could volunteer to participate in the program and would have to agree to a number of conditions, including allowing a neutral third party to track their program’s progress.

“The idea would be: let states try different ways of providing aid and then test the results,” said Ryan. “In short, more flexibility in exchange for more accountability. My thinking basically is: get rid of these bureaucratic formulas and put the emphasis on results.”

According to Ryan, the “opportunity grants” would be budget neutral.

Ryan also pledged his support for a number of proposals in the House and Senate that he said “expand opportunity by taking decision making away from Washington and bringing more accountability to government at all levels.”

Among them were increasing the earned income tax credit for childless workers, reviewing standards for colleges, revamping job training programs, reforming criminal sentencing guidelines, and mandating that Congress review any federal regulation that could harm poor families.

But Democrats are wary of Ryan’s plan. Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., the ranking member on the Budget Committee, said Friday that consolidating the funding could be detrimental to those in poverty.

“What Mr. Ryan is proposing is a whole-sale bloc grant on many programs including the food and nutrition program, which we’ve always had as a guarantee for people at the lowest income levels to makes sure that in their most difficult times at least they will get that food and nutrition assistance,” Van Hollen told NBC’s Chuck Todd on The Daily Rundown. “Under the Ryan plan, that guarantee is taken away.”

Van Hollen also said there is a “total disconnect between the Ryan program and his budget,” arguing that Ryan’s budget significantly cuts the anti-poverty programs in his most recent proposal.

Ryan’s poverty plan comes a few months after he faced sharp criticism for what he said was an “inarticulate” statement about poverty in the inner cities. At the time he said he was trying to say that “government and families have to do more and rethink our approach for fighting poverty.”

Ryan said Thursday that his proposal is “a discussion draft” that aims to foster a conversation about how best to combat poverty. He encouraged the audience and those listening to his speech to email with their feedback.

“I don’t have all the answers,” said Ryan. “Far from it.”

  • Yonatan YONATAN

    There are STILL three million unemployed workers, with families , who are STILL without an unemployment extension of benefits, since last December. While the republican senate vigorously fought on behalf of the Koch Brother’s oil pipeline bill to be passed, they totally ignored and delayed the passing of the unemployment extension bill , that would have greatly helped millions of these families living in financial ruin and poverty. Our government recently passed an foreign aid bill for the Ukraine, worth Billions of tax payer dollars. There is also a bill to pass a 2.6 BILLION dollar bill for the thousands of migrant children pouring into our country on a daily basis, customs or our defense. Why is it so difficult for our government to help our own citizens right here in our own country? Why is there no money to help these unemployed families who lost their benefits seven months ago, and are still struggling to survive ever since? How can the republicans refuse to help Americans, but give our money away like it belongs to themselves? These Americans are in desperate need, and can not be ignored anymore. Even our own veterans matter little to our government. Look at their healthcare they have received. We treat illegal migrants better than our veterans.

  • Ulyssess

    Paul Ryan is living in an Ayn Rand novel, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us are. People of Wisconsin let us all down sending this mean-spirited demagogue back to Congress.

  • booger71

    Cut everyone off the Federal boob including companies, countries and individuals. It is not Constitutional and we can’t afford it anymore. Cut about 90% of the federal bureaucracy which is also not Constitutional. There Paul, fixed it for you

  • Hans Olo

    Hussein Obama is a delusional marxist who intentionally causes chaos to advance his own destructive agenda.

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