In his interview with Katie Couric this week, Speaker Ryan laid out his problems with the status quo on poverty and his different vision.
What’s going on?
“There are a lot of people hurting in America. The promise of this country isn’t something people see for themselves. There are generations and communities where people don’t believe that this American idea is there for them. If the American idea is not there for everybody, it’s not there at all.”
But I thought we waged a War on Poverty.
“What we’ve done over the last 50 years in this War on Poverty is we’ve treated symptoms. We’ve made poverty easier to tolerate, better to handle, but we haven’t gone after the root cause of poverty to break the cycle of poverty. We have to go after root causes, not focus on inputs. Not focus on how much money we’re spending or how many programs we’re creating in Washington. . . .
“This is what we’ve done through the War on Poverty. We said, ‘This is Washington’s. ‘We’ll take care of it from here. Pay your taxes, Mr. and Mrs. America. Don’t worry about poverty. It’s not your problem to solve. We’ll handle it in Washington.’ Then Washington came up with this alphabet soup of programs, spent trillions of dollars on it.”
Did we win?
“We barely moved the needle. If you want to declare the end of the War on Poverty, it’s a stale mate because we still have the same kind of poverty rates we had when we started. We have 46 million people in poverty.”
What should Washington do differently?
“Let’s listen to people who are actually showing successful ways and remedies of fighting poverty . . . This should be about what works and what doesn’t work. . .There are issues and examples all over this country of people making a difference. That’s what we should get behind. Unfortunately I think our approach at the federal government has been to displace these things. I think we need to rethink the way we attack poverty.”
So Republicans are going to put forward ideas on poverty?
“This is a party that has ideas on fighting poverty . . . I believe fundamentally that we can offer better ideas as conservatives by applying our principles to the problem of poverty to showing better solutions.”