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Ryan’s Anti-Poverty Plan a Good Conversation Starter

Developing a reformist agenda for 2016.

by
Rick Moran

Bio

July 25, 2014 - 11:27 pm
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New York Times columnist Ross Douthat calls them “reformocons,” or “libertarian populists.” They are a small, not quite influential, but growing in stature group of center-right public policy experts, intellectuals, and commentators who are trying to hash out a reform agenda for the Republican Party — with limited success so far. A major reason for their failure is that they take a non-ideological approach to developing public policy — decidedly out of step with most of those who call themselves conservative today. And the fact that they actually seek to make government better, instead of making it disappear, is another reason they receive short shrift from many movement conservatives.

For several years now, one of the boldest of these reformocons has been Rep. Paul Ryan. The former vice presidential candidate offered a budget outline in 2012 that suggested, among other reform proposals, a voucher program for Medicare which caused liberals to blow a gasket. (Of course, in 10 years we will probably look back on Ryan’s Medicare ideas and wonder why we didn’t adopt them when we had the chance.)

On Thursday, Rep. Ryan gave a speech at the American Enterprise Institute where he outlined a bold, innovative program to fight poverty. Callie Gable of NRO has some good analysis of the plan, but here are some bare-bones highlights:

* Expansion of the Earned Income Tax Credit. The Ryan plan calls for a doubling of the controversial program for childless adults and to “expand the credit in ways which better incentivize work and attract young adults to the workforce than the status quo or some other popular proposals.”

* Opportunity Grants. These grants would give states “the ability to use the funds they currently get for a range of programs to run individually focused programs specifically intended to help needy individuals achieve upward mobility and stay out of poverty long term.”

The program would build on the success of the 1996 Welfare Reform Act:

Disadvantaged Americans would each be pared with an individual case worker, with whom they would agree on personalized short and long-term goals (e.g., apply for child support or begin drug counseling) set out in “contracts.” Most important, Ryan is building on the success of the 1990s welfare-reform laws here: A key element of the contracts would be encouraging work, which, currently, only cash welfare requires. Food stamps, federal housing aid, utilities assistance, and more don’t have work requirements — this would essentially mandate that states opting for the Opportunity Grant implement work requirements.

* Ditch the Head Start program and turn its funding into block grants to the states so that they can experiment with early childhood education programs to see what works.

* Reform federal college loan programs to make them easier to apply for and give the applicant more information on the costs associated with the loan.

* Get rid of most of the “accreditation cartels” that stand in the way of educational opportunities for the poor.

Reform of sentencing laws, especially for drug offenses, making rehab easier to get for prison inmates, regulatory reform, consolidating data on federal programs to see if they are performing as intended — it’s a smorgasbord of changes designed to bring a degree of federalism to government not seen for decades. It will streamline anti-poverty efforts, weeding out those programs that don’t work while empowering individuals to help themselves out of poverty without cutting the safety net.

Reactions are cautiously positive. Reihan Salam calls the plan “paternalistic” but also “a thoughtful, compassionate blueprint for a better social safety net.” Jennifer Rubin thinks that “Ryan’s effort is a critical part of the effort to revive the conservative movement and, yes, change its image as the party of old, rich, white men.” Ross Douthat:

[T]he Ryan proposals are the latest evidence for what “even the liberal New Republic’s” Danny Vinik recently conceded is a growing contrast between the policy ferment on the Republican side of the aisle and the staleness and or small-ball quality of the Democratic Party’s “what comes after Obama?” agenda.

But will it work? And more prosaically, is all of this really necessary? Put aside the debate about the efficacy of the social safety net and whether the programs currently in place are actually reducing poverty. We know they’re not, but it is somewhat beside the point. That’s because Ryan may not have successfully defined the problem of poverty, thereby offering solutions that miss the mark.

Comments are closed.

Top Rated Comments   
Another, "rearranging the deck chairs" idea from the same great minds who want to "change" rather than illuminate Obamacare.

Ryan, the issue isn't how the government can do things better, it's how to get the government out of things it shouldn't be doing.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
>>Starting conversations. So much easier than actually trying to cut government spending.

There is no vote buying to be done in cutting government spending. The politicians want to create new ways into the public fisc for the non functioning. It is compassionate, doncha know? "Compassion" with other peoples money.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Starting conversations. So much easier than actually trying to cut government spending.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
All Comments   (37)
All Comments   (37)
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No conversation can be begin until we admit one of the biggest contributors to poverty - family breakdown.
16 weeks ago
16 weeks ago Link To Comment
Ted Cruz, Allen West, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin, and counting. No Rino's.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
"A major reason for their failure is that they take a big government approach to developing public policy — decidedly out of step with most of those who call themselves conservative today. And the fact that they actually seek to make government bigger, instead of making it obey the Constitution and common sense, is another reason they receive short shrift from many movement conservatives."


There, I fixed it for ya!

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just another top-down program proposed by "wunderkid" Ryan who is just another Rino blowhard. You only hear the Rinos propose maybe downsizing government, but they never ever propose eliminating the many redundant U.S. departments. It's all about keeping everything centralized and controlled in DC, instead of a more bottom-up state funded and controlled program.

Instead of Washington DC allocating the funds in the form of block grants, Ryan should be proposing to eliminate about eight U.S. cabinet level departments that are redundant to many departments at state level.
The states shouldn't have to rely upon DC for funds, but rather the states should keep most of the tax revenues and it should be the state governments that decide on the allocation of such tax revenue.

The only necessary U.S. cabinet level departments are: Departments of Defense, Treasury, State, and Interior. Interior could have Justice, Homeland, or a better name, National security and other such agencies reporting to Interior. Get rid of NSA and the FBI. Close the U.S. Departments: Environment, Health & Human Services, Transportation, Housing & Urban Development, Agriculture, Commerce, Labor. Fold Department of Veterans Affairs back into the Department of Defense. These U.S. departments are a waste and inefficient use of financial and human resources. When Ryan proposes getting rid of departments, and not just tinkering with the present system, then he is on to something and not just blowing hot air.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Any at all good anti-poverty plan would include mandatory E-Verify, border enforcement (instead of farcement) and deportations. This would open up a large number of jobs to low, or no, income Americans and at higher pay than the illegals/serfs get. Instead Ryan is an amnesty pusher, the opposite.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
No anti-poverty plan that fails to notice the consequences of a steadily growing number of bottom-rung illegal workers should be taken seriously. Most people who are seriously poor over an extended time are looking for the same jobs and importing a steady stream of new competitors is a 'poverty program' alright -- but it's 'pro' rather than 'anti.'

The second important omission is any statement about the economy-killing efforts of federal (and to a lesser extent, state) regulations. We'll never lift the lower few percent of our boats if we don't stop draining the ocean with anti-every business rules.

Unfortunately these omissions are deliberate: Neither party really wants to discuss closing our border or cutting the number of lines of law and regulation by -- say -- 3/4.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
We already have an anti-poverty plan. It's called America with a Federal government that does not exceed its enumerated powers and duties. Unfortunately we have passed the tipping point and it can not be rolled back without extreme measures. These aren't extreme measures. They are cosmetic.

A better plan would originate in the Red states. Those states so inclined have to reject the major agencies of the Federal government that are acting outside of constitutionally defined responsibilities (EPA, FDA, ATF, DEA, NSA, Dept of Education, NLRB, etc.,). Ask them to disband their operations and to cease practicing within the state. Then they need to give their citizens and corporations authorization to pay only a predefined flat federal tax that is calculated to pay the state's fair share for the Fed's legitimate functions. The states are our best hope.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry Mr. Ryan but 25 years in social work showed me that the EITC does not pull folks out of poverty and is frequently used and abused by those not eligible for the money. How about lower taxes for everyone and forget the special giveaways?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Maybe they could call themselves compassionate conservatives?
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, or they could be honest, and call themselves shameless opportunists, or Democrats.

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
So....send money to DC so Ryan, Pelosi and their ilk can take a cut..then send what is left back to the state government so they can take THEIR cut...gee thats gonna work just fine-for the politicians. How about money stays at the local level where people can fix their own problems. Tariffs for all national expenses such as the military.
17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
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