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Ryan: Safety Net, Economic Growth Needed to ‘Lift People Out of Poverty’

Dem Van Hollen, though, accuses GOP of "false and pernicious stereotype that many of these struggling individuals prefer to rely on these safety nets."

by
Bill Straub

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April 30, 2014 - 10:18 pm
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WASHINGTON – A veteran anti-poverty activist told a House panel Wednesday that cutting aid to the poor is “deeply misguided” during a lackluster economy, particularly when programs providing assistance are “enabling struggling families to stay afloat.”

Appearing before the House Budget Committee, Marian Wright Edelman, president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund, said increased funding for various federal poverty programs will help ensure that “the next generation’s adults won’t be scarred by a childhood of deprivation, which if unchecked fuels a cycle of poverty that repeats itself through generations.”

“We don’t have poverty in our midst because we have done too much for people — we have poverty because we have done too little,” Edelman said. “We should be fixing the policies that have fueled inequality and given birth to an economy that has stopped working for the majority of hard-working people in our country.”

Edelman’s testimony came as part of a series of hearings called by Rep. Paul Ryan, (R-Wis.), the committee chairman, meant to explore the causes and possible solutions to poverty in America.

Ryan, the GOP’s unsuccessful vice presidential candidate in 2012, has made breaking the cycle of poverty a key objective since assuming the chairmanship, although he has been the target of criticism from Democrats and some advocates for the poor for proposing budgets that cut funding for what they view as vital anti-poverty programs.

“It is bad enough that the Republican budget targets these programs for cuts while cutting tax rates for millionaires, but it adds insult to injury to claim, as Republicans do, that shredding the social safety net actually helps those who are struggling every day to make ends meet,” said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), the committee’s ranking member. “This claim is based on a false and pernicious stereotype that many of these struggling individuals prefer to rely on these safety nets – sometimes mockingly referred to as hammocks – rather than get a job.”

“This mindset is a fantasy world approach – that by dismantling anti-poverty programs, we will reduce poverty. It ignores the reality that the fundamental problem is not lack of motivation, but lack of economic opportunity.”

Perhaps most troubling, Van Hollen said, is that the Ryan budget also “chops away at the ladders of opportunity that help our fellow Americans climb out of poverty.”

For his part, Ryan acknowledged that since the 1960s-era War on Poverty “we made progress in some areas—but not enough.” The question isn’t whether the federal government should help, Ryan said, “but how.”

“The evidence is clear — we do need a safety net but there’s no substitute for economic growth,” Ryan said. “We need both of them to lift people out of poverty. Thanks to today’s lackluster recovery, we’re in a rut—household income is flat and there’s less opportunity to go around.”

Edelman said the U.S. must ensure that safety net programs are sufficiently robust “to stop the irreparable harm caused to children growing up poor.” Without needed assistance, she said,  children who are “poor right now through no fault of their own” will find their potential diminished “unless their families and communities have resources to nourish their development.”

Child poverty, Edelman said, costs the nation more than $500 billion each year in lost productivity, extra education, health and criminal justice costs.

“Too many children still fall through the holes in our already porous safety net,” she said. “We must increase the value of nutrition assistance, remove barriers to accessing benefits, and extend the reach of housing subsidies. We must expand Medicaid to poor parents and others in all states.”

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Top Rated Comments   
"Poverty is not very difficult to explain. There are three basic causes: People may be poor because they cannot produce anything highly valued by others. Or, if they can produce things highly valued by others but circumstance hampers or prevents them from doing so. Or, they volunteer to be poor. Here’s Williams’ roadmap out of poverty: Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen. Among both black and white Americans so described, the poverty rate is in the single digits.” Walter Williams

Socioeconomic success in America is determined by the subculture's (white, Asian, black, Hispanic, native American, etc.) embrace or rejection of Five Critical Cultural Virtues. They are simple but profound in their effects; 1) education, 2) developing a strong work ethic, 3) acceptance of personal responsibility and accountability, 4) acceptance of familial obligations and loyalty, and 5) the virtue of delayed gratification. Individual exceptions aside, that is all it takes to be successful in America. That is all it has ever taken.

The overall success of Asian, Hispanic, Native American and Black ‘sub-cultures’ closely match the degree to which they culturally embrace, ignore and neglect or reject these virtues. There are no substitutes or short cuts. It's the cultural values embraced, stupid.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
The kind hearted who would help the poor really do not understand that all their help only makes matters worse. LBJ launched a War on Poverty, and you know what? Poverty won. In the laws of unintended consequences, several stand out: the more you help the helpless, the more helpless you will have to help; another one is what I call the iron law of economics: the more you subsidize something, the more of it you get, the more you tax something the less of it you get. We have subsidized poverty and we have more of it, we are taxing income and wealth and we are getting less of those.

The Marxian idea of, from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs, ignores the fact that needs know no bounds while abilities are very bounded.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
“We don’t have poverty in our midst because we have done too much for people — we have poverty because we have done too little,” Edelman said."

If you pay people to be on welfare, and relatively handsomely, as is now done in the U.S., you are going to have more people on welfare, you idiot!
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (33)
All Comments   (33)
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We have been safety netting them for decades. Do any of those people in congress watch programs such as PBS shows that show the plight of inner city families that get themselves in situations such as drugs and prison time? Do they notice all the goodies that these inner city "poor" people have in the HUD housing? Flat screen televisions the side of a wall, leather couches, etc. We are not buying the "poor" argument anymore.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Fifty years of approaching poverty Miss Edelman's way, with a total failure of this experiment, is more than any country should bear.
Let's return to the tried and true methods of hard work, personal responsibility,especially when it comes to having children. Poor Korean and Vietnamese immigrants can teach Miss Edelman's constituency a thing or two about how anyone can escape poverty.
Depending on government to help you out of poverty is just asking to be enslaved. (But it buys votes.)
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
It is so simple that many just can't understand it: People Will Do Whatever They Are Paid To Do. Pay teenage girls to have illegitimate children, and they will do so. Pay them more for each subsequent illegitimate child, and they will continue reproducing. Stop paying for this blight on society, and watch the illegitimacy rate plummet. Then, and only then, will the War on Poverty begin to be won.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
When they start blathering about "DA CHILDRENZ!!!" you know that they're full of it, and their only goal is to squeeze more money out of you.

Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats want to:

1. Punish people who hire illegal aliens.
2. Eliminate 75% of the federal government.
3. Eliminate no-fault divorce.
4. Provide treatment instead of prison for drug addicts.

Why? If the Republicans and Democrats did those things, they would lose power. Republicans and Democrats (or any politician for that matter) don't give a flying fu@k about you or society. All they care about is power and control. Anybody who believes otherwise is delusional.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
1. Republicans demanded E-verify, which dims removed...except for federal contracts.
2. Yes. Republicans and Libertarians have been supporting this for some time.
3. Divorce and its requirements are defined by voters in each state, not at federal.
4. Republicans and Libertarians have been calling for ending the war on drugs for years....where have you been? We have been telling you and everyone else that it does not work.

Reconsider your position.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
We've had a safety net for 50 years. How many times do we ram our heads into a wall before we realize that there has to be a better way. We work all week only to see 1/3 of our checks go for someone else's safety net who's sitting at home.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Family is the natural safety net. Full Stop.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
“This claim is based on a false and pernicious stereotype that many of these struggling individuals prefer to rely on these safety nets – sometimes mockingly referred to as hammocks – rather than get a job.”
There are very few families in poverty with married parents and at least one parent holding a full-time job.
Most of the families in poverty aren't what I'd call families: they are households with a mother who has never married and a child who has little or no contact with the father. These households have indeed found the safety net to be a hammock. In far too many cases, the mother has several children who have different fathers, none of whom are supporting the mother or the children.
That poverty, the persistent and wretched kind, is enabled rather than relieved by current government programs. And it's celebrated by people like Edelman. When wiser heads say that this is harmful, they're excoriated.
But keep saying it, Rep. Ryan and Dr. Cosby. Keep saying it.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Poverty is not very difficult to explain. There are three basic causes: People may be poor because they cannot produce anything highly valued by others. Or, if they can produce things highly valued by others but circumstance hampers or prevents them from doing so. Or, they volunteer to be poor. Here’s Williams’ roadmap out of poverty: Complete high school; get a job, any kind of a job; get married before having children; and be a law-abiding citizen. Among both black and white Americans so described, the poverty rate is in the single digits.” Walter Williams

Socioeconomic success in America is determined by the subculture's (white, Asian, black, Hispanic, native American, etc.) embrace or rejection of Five Critical Cultural Virtues. They are simple but profound in their effects; 1) education, 2) developing a strong work ethic, 3) acceptance of personal responsibility and accountability, 4) acceptance of familial obligations and loyalty, and 5) the virtue of delayed gratification. Individual exceptions aside, that is all it takes to be successful in America. That is all it has ever taken.

The overall success of Asian, Hispanic, Native American and Black ‘sub-cultures’ closely match the degree to which they culturally embrace, ignore and neglect or reject these virtues. There are no substitutes or short cuts. It's the cultural values embraced, stupid.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yabbut -- in the end, it's the individual who embraces or rejects those values. Your concern about the subculture is valid, certainly.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
As the author Heinlein pointed out, "Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal". The majority of human beings are imprisoned by their culture. Individual choice is not an option for such as they.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
"A minimum wage hike...'would help their parents put nutritious food on the table, keep a roof over their heads and ensure they get the healthcare they need to develop to their full potential.'" All that for an extra $2.50 an hour?

Dems don't believe that for a second. I would like to hear them tell us a dollar amount of income they believe would eliminate the need for government programs. And once we know that magic figure, do you think they would be satisfied simply writing checks to recipients for this hypothetical income would be sufficient?

Would they support elimination of all their programs and the government employees that administer them and take the savings and "redistribute" them directly to the less fortunate if it paid for their magic income figure?
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
Man, the cliches really fill the air at these hearings, don't they? We've been hearing these trite phrases at least since the days of FDR. We've spent somewhere between two to three trillion, yes, trillion, dollars on various and sundry programs since LBJ - 50 years or so, and we still haven't made a dent in the 'cycle of poverty,' but we've certainly maintained the 'cycle of dependency' that we profess to deplore.

We need to open up more job opportunities for the poor, yet we must open the immigration floodgates for the poor of other countries to do jobs that not enough Americans will do.

You can't solve a problem if the answer itself becomes the same problem.
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
“Since the beginning of the War on Poverty, government has spent $19.8 trillion (in inflation-adjusted 2011 dollars) on means-tested welfare." Stephen Daggett, Congressional Research Service
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
43 weeks ago
43 weeks ago Link To Comment
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