Spotlight Exclusives

Paul Ryan on the Record on Poverty

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Before he was Mitt Romney۪s running mate, Representative Paul Ryan (R-WI) was a Spotlight contributor, participating in a Spotlight audio conference in June 2011 and penning an Exclusive Commentary in March this year. Here are a few highlights from the call featuring Ryan۪s views on fighting poverty and increasing opportunity: <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />


·        “While we may not agree on the appropriate level of funding for these kinds of programs, I do think that we all agree that the best welfare program is the program that ends with an individual empowered to take charge of their own life, allowing them to achieve self-sufficiency and not a life of dependency on the federal government.”


·         When speaking to the rationale for the House Republican budget, Ryan stated, “We think that federal programs should be a safety net and that they too frequently become a mish mash of programs that result in a web that can capture into a life of dependency.”


·         Ryan laid out a few things the House Republican budget is meant to do, including creating “a welfare program that is designed not toward keeping people on welfare but for getting them back on their feet.” Citing job training as an example, Ryan suggested consolidating “49 different job training programs spread across nine different government agencies” to create a “safety net not a welfare state.”


·         Later, he discussed Medicaid, stating, “Medicaid is growing at such an unsustainable rate that it۪s going to go bankrupt. [] So you۪ve got to fundamentally reform it.”


·         Ryan then took on tax reform, noting, “If you go down that tax increasing route thinking that۪s going to solve your fiscal problem, our fear is that it۪s going to lose jobs.” He continued by suggesting “people off of unemployment and back to work paying taxes [] is just a necessary ingredient” to grow the economy.


·         Ryan closed the call by arguing that “a key reform that۪s going to be necessary in the social safety net” is to “collapse these job training programs into scholarships that go to individuals so that when they lose their job in an industry or a factory that is gone, they can go back to school to learn a new skill, get back on their feet to get ahead in the 21st century economy.”


Click here for a behind the scenes look at the conference call.


In his commentary for Spotlight entitled, “Government Must Refocus Its Safety Net to Those in Need,”

Ryan discussed entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, arguing that “absent fundamental reform, these entitlement programs coupled with interest payments on the debt are on a path to consume the entire federal budget.” He argued further that “a much less discussed form of inequality is the growing gap between old and young, with younger Americans on the hook for the trillions of dollars of unfunded liabilities that will be required to maintain the status quo.”


To solve the problem, Ryan suggests, “a prudent course of action for policymakers would be to advance sensible reforms to the unsustainable benefit structure of these programs so that government is doing a better job of directing assistance to those that need it most, while giving less help to households that need it least.”


Posted by Sarah

Here at Out of the Spotlight, we offer a behind-the-scenes look at the latest news and information essential to anyone working to fight poverty. From key political appointees to clashes over policy, we cover the news that doesn’t always make the evening news. Check out Out of the Spotlight for our take on the twists and turns of the latest political developments and their impact on poverty reduction. Topics and ideas are welcome! Just contact or

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