House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, saying the United States has lost the War on Poverty, is slamming President Barack Obama’s policies aimed at pulling 50 million Americans up into the middle class as a failure.
“I would give us a failing grade,” the Wisconsin Republican said on an NBC Nightly News segment Thursday commemorating the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s War on Poverty speech.”It has failed.”
During an interview with Brian Williams, he attacked Obama’s spending on federal programs, saying that the government keeps “dumping money into programs we know won’t work.”
“We can do better than this. Too many people don’t know what the American idea is anymore,” said the Wisconsin Republican, who was his party’s vice presidential nominee in 2012.
Ryan claimed that the government has not done enough to encourage local communities to get involved in helping people living below the poverty line. He called on suburban churches to get involved in aiding urban churches. “We’ve got to get our communities engaged,” he said.
Pinning part of the blame on the “family breakdown,” Ryan continued, “People think it’s being handled by government. ‘I pay my taxes.’ People need to get involved in their own communities.” He said the government has to “remove the barriers that allow that to happen” and “stop subsidizing programs that are failing.”
He went on to blame the government for creating a “poverty trap” of taxation that results in millions of Americans giving up on their dream of being economically independent.
President Obama has made it clear that that he plans to take on the issue of income inequality in his second term, which critics say could lead to a renewed effort to increase taxes on the wealthy. But Ryan said the government needs a system of income initiatives that encourages “upward mobility and work.”
Citing the proposals of the late New York Republican Rep. Jack Kemp, whom he described as one of his mentors, he also said that providing education and housing vouchers for the poor would help curb poverty.
“We’ve got to stop quarantining the poor,” he said, noting that too many low-income students are relegated to under-performing schools.
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By Drew MacKenzie