Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) appeared on NBC’s “Meet The Press” on Sunday morning to discuss the poverty plan he unveiled last week. Democrats quickly responded with a statement suggesting Ryan has no credibility on the issue because the budget proposal he championed in Congress harms “working Americans and those fighting their way up the economic ladder.”
“Paul Ryan’s not fooling anyone. Ryan made a name for himself pushing through budget after budget that would do nothing less than gut the social safety net and cut chances for Americans to join the middle class,” Democratic National Committee Press Secretary Michael Czin said in a statement responding to Ryan. “How can he claim to be fighting for the poor, while year after year he advocates policies that hurt working Americans and those fighting their way up the economic ladder? Actions speak louder than words in Paul Ryan’s case, his long track record speaks for itself.”
On “Meet The Press,” Ryan, the 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee and a potential 2016 presidential candidate, described the main goal of his poverty plan as improving “outcomes” for the poor.
“If you want to have a healthy economy and have real solutions, you have to have a healthy safety net. And a safety net needs to work to get people out of poverty,” Ryan said on Sunday. “So my argument here is let’s not focus on effort, on input, how much money you spend. Let’s focus on outcomes. Are we actually getting people out of poverty?”
Ryan’s proposal would shift aid money from the federal government to the states. It would allow states to have more discretion in how to allocate these funds including letting more aid go to for-profit companies with anti-poverty programs. Ryan is also calling for stricter work or job training requirements to be imposed on people who receive aid.
Ryan said his plan was based on listening to “people who are fighting poverty person to person” and would “give them more flexibility in exchange for more accountability to actually get people out of poverty.”
“I would argue that we can customise the benefit to a person based on their particular needs which actually helps them get out of poverty long term,” explained Ryan. We’ve spend $US800 billion every year on 92 different programs to fight poverty. Yet we have the highest poverty rates in a generation.”
“Meet The Press” host David Gregory responded by bringing up comments Ryan made on the show last year where he said he was worried “more and more able-bodied people are becoming dependent upon the government than upon themselves.” Gregory questioned whether Ryan had “sympathy for people you think need the government’s help.”
Ryan argued his proposals are aimed at “a poverty management system that simply perpetuates poverty.”
“We want to get at the root cause of the poverty to get people out of poverty. And I would argue that that is the best way to go forward. And that’s what we’re proposing here, which is have benefits that are customised to either person’s problems, because poverty is very complicated,” he said. “The federal government’s approach has ended up maintaining poverty, managing poverty. In many ways, it has disincentivized people to going to work. In some cases, you lose more in benefits if you go to work. So people don’t go to work because of the federal disincentives that do so. So we need to reemphasize getting people up and on their lives and helping them give them the tools to do that. That’s the point.”
Watch video of Ryan’s interview below.
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