Former vice presidential nominee and chair of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan has been considered the wonk of the House GOP for years. After being rebuked by voters as part of the Romney-Ryan ticket in 2012, Ryan has kept a low profile throughout this year. A new piece in the
Washington Posttoday reveals that Ryan is preparing to announce a new anti-poverty agenda next year to go along with his yearly budget.
To help him develop new ideas, the Manhattan Institute’s Scott Winship has been working with Ryan in recent months. Winship has worked for liberals organisations like the Democratic Strategist and Third Way before switching over to moderate ones in the Pew Charitable Trust and Brookings Institute. This past September, he joined the conservative Manhattan Institute as a senior fellow.
Winship is committed to reforming government so that it supports education and growth programs that put people on the path to success. He’s a big fan of the Earned Income Tax Credit and job training initiatives. Education reform is another top priority of his, particularly in K-12 schooling. He sees the growing cost of college as an impediment to economic mobility and wants government budget cuts to focus on eliminating the least effective programs.
More than anything though, Winship’s research has focused on using statistics to provide a fuller understanding of income inequality in America. He is a major proponent the work of Rich Burkhauser who analyses post-tax, post-transfer income. This is in contrast to the frequently-cited work of Emmanuel Saez and Thomas Picketty, who have found an increasingly growing gap between the income of the top 1 per cent and the rest of America. But Winship notes that Saez and Picketty’s analysis does not include transfers or taxes, both of which have become more progressive in recent decades.
This is not to say that Winship believes income inequality does not exist. He notes that inequality in market income has risen, but does not necessarily believe that’s a bad thing. He agrees that income for the top 1% has increased significantly but also sees increases in the incomes of lower quintiles as well once you account for the value of health insurance and taxes. He explained this view in a long article in National Affairs this past spring titled, “Overstating the Costs of Inequality.“
Winship is most focused on economic mobility and ensuring that those born in the lower income brackets have the opportunity to move into the middle class. Here, he writes that the U.S. lags other countries, though it has not necessarily gotten worse over time. The policy prescriptions that he supports largely are focused on increasing mobility.
In particular, he wants the government to play a role in advising and teaching young people to act responsibly to reduce early pregnancies and abortions. He’s a big proponent of ensuring that children are born into a supportive environment and continue to receive support as they grow up. He also supports preschool and kindergarten programs, although it is unclear if he backs universal pre-k.
On education, Winship finds school vouchers promising, but notes that all school reforms have found mixed results. He also supports the Common Core Standards that have been controversially implemented in many states in hopes of increasing the value of testing.
Winship’s ideas are not strictly conservative and many Republicans will take issue with some of the government programs he supports. That Ryan is working with him is a positive sign that he is looking to craft a comprehensive anti-poverty agenda. While undoubtedly Ryan will include other more conservative ideas in his final plan, Winship’s research is a very good place to start.
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