Paul Ryan has an anti-poverty proposal
Leonard Pitts writes that Paul Ryan has made a proposal for addressing poverty in the USA. Pitts says that Ryan would give the States grants to spend as they like. The grants would come with strings and conditions intended to ensure that the States achieve the desired results. Pitts applauds the fact that the proposal exists, indicating that Republicans may finally recognize that poverty is a problem needing attention.
I haven’t studied Ryan’s proposal. I know no more about it than I read in Leonard Pitts’ column. Giving anti-poverty money to the States is consistent with Republican views. It would be as futile as giving hurricane Sandy money to Gov. Christie — unlikely to achieve the goal. Nor do I believe that the answer to poverty is any different in Michigan than in Mississippi–although some states surely would spend the money more effectively than others. Pitts writes that Ryan’s proposal would “turn one problem into 50,” and that has the ring of truth.
We know how to solve poverty–increase family disposable income–we don’t need 50 experiments.
- Raise wages well above the poverty level.
- Stop short-changing women
- Child care allowance
- Stop counting tips as wages
- Put more people to work
- Invest more in education and infrastructure
- Every job should have adequate benefits: vacation, pension, insurance, family leave
Suggesting the States experiment is naive–we don’t need to start over as if poverty were a mystery that we have no idea how to address.
We need what we almost had during the Johnson Administration–a national consensus to defeat poverty. We need a national plan, formulated by experts, enacted by Congress, and accepted by the people. This is a monumental challenge. When we try to address a social problem as a nation, we often fail in a flurry of partisan strife as we have with affordable health care, climate change, and education reform.
Leonard Pitts concludes:
Thus one welcomes even this flawed proposal. One hopes it presages renewed GOP interest in an issue the party has largely ceded to the Democrats and spurs us all to reconsider what we can–and should–do to erase the specter of want in a land of plenty. For too long, we have responded to that urgent need only with silence.
© William Hungerford – August 2014