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  • CHART: Paul Ryan Lays Out a Vision for Reforming Welfare, Fighting Poverty

    In his speech today at Cleveland State University, Representative Paul Ryan (R–WI) laid out a vision for reforming the nation’s approach to poverty.

    “With few exceptions, government’s approach has been to spend lots of money on centralized, bureaucratic, top-down anti-poverty programs,” Ryan stated. “The mindset behind this approach is that a nation should measure compassion by the size of the federal government and how much it spends.” This has “created and perpetuated a debilitating culture of dependency, wrecking families and communities.”

    He’s right. Since the “War on Poverty” began five decades ago, the federal government has spent nearly $20 trillion (adjusted for inflation) on what is now a welfare system consisting of over 80 programs. Total annual spending is now approaching $1 trillion. See our newly updated chart: (continues below chart)

    Tragically, this massive welfare state has been a driver of dependency. Today, 100 million Americans—roughly one-third of the U.S. population—receive aid from a government welfare program (not including Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment insurance).

    As Ryan noted, in the 1990s Congress passed the historic welfare reform law, inserting work requirements into the largest federal cash assistance program. This was a huge success.

    “[W]e saw welfare enrollment drop dramatically, as millions of our fellow citizens gained new lives of independence,” Ryan said. “We saw child poverty rates fall over 20 percent in four years—and we saw employment for single mothers rise.”

    But these reforms are at risk. In July of this year, the Obama Administration announced it would remove work requirements from welfare reform—the very element that made the law such a success.

    Additionally, as Ryan explained, “The welfare reform mindset hasn’t been applied with equal vigor across the spectrum of anti-poverty programs.” Indeed, only a few of the dozens of the federal government’s welfare programs include any type of work requirement. And thanks to the Obama Administration, now even fewer will.

    “In this war on poverty, poverty is winning. We deserve better,” Ryan noted. “The short of it is that there has to be a balance—allowing government to act for the common good, while leaving private groups free to do the work that only they can do.”

    As Ryan explained, it is necessary to build on the successes of the 1996 welfare reform. This means restoring work requirements and expanding them to other welfare programs, such as food stamps, one of the largest and fastest-growing welfare programs. Fighting poverty effectively also means allowing civil society to thrive.

    “What is government’s duty when it comes to the institutions of civil society? Basically, it is to secure their rights, respect their purposes, and preserve their freedom.”

    He pointed out the good work of community grassroots leaders such as Bob Woodson, founder of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. His programs have helped root out crime and violence in some of the nation’s most troubled communities. He also recognized Dr. Marva Mitchell of Ohio’s Revival Center Ministries International, “who has been ministering to people in the inner cities for decades,” along with the Reverend Willie Peterson, whose NewBirth Project “has helped almost 200 ex-offenders gain and maintain employment.”

    He told the story of another grassroots leader, Brian Wade, who not only opened a homeless shelter but moved his young family into the shelter for seven years to be able to more fully dedicate themselves to the people they and other volunteers aimed to help.

    These are just a few examples of many grassroots leaders across the nation who are doing similar work to help transform the lives of those in poverty. Rather than simply providing a handout, as government programs do, these grassroots leaders are able to address the unique needs of the individual—and material poverty is more often a symptom rather than the cause.

    Government’s massive and ever-expanding welfare system has failed to help the poor. Its ever-increasing costs are unsustainable. It’s time to change course. Ensuring that welfare promotes self-reliance rather than dependence and allowing civil society to fulfill its roll in assisting those in need is crucial to promoting the well being of the nation’s most needy and to ensuring the strength of society.

    Posted in Culture [slideshow_deploy]

    3 Responses to CHART: Paul Ryan Lays Out a Vision for Reforming Welfare, Fighting Poverty

    1. Bobbie says:

      Reducing welfare dependency encourages self motivation, builds self esteem, personal dignity and endurance. It also expands the minds abilities where the minds abilities are stifled as and while people are subjectively dependents of government!

      Mr. Obama has been succinct and to address "we can't follow the same policies that got us into the recession?" I like as many facts in order to grasp an educated opinion. He hasn't been succinct in telling us what specific policies he is blaming on the recession that he felt free to add more debt to? What are the policies beyond 4 years ago that his presidency hasn't made better for America as a whole today? what did he do in his time before and during his senate term for him to make the decision to fundamentally "change" America that gleams avoidance had we respectful strong leaders in America's founding principles and morality? Obama wants stricter rules for wall streets risky investments? What rules does Obama follow that his risky investments hasn't taken advantage of innocent people uninvolved with the president's decision making, using America(n's) income and not his own? Hypocrite. None of Mr. Romney's private investments effects America's tax revenue as he (and the majority of all skin colors) is a man of inherent integrity and decency to follow the rules applied by use of his own personal income. America continues to lose big by Mr. Obama consciously investing our money into his lack of experience making poor, reckless judgments without consent of the people! This is OUR COUNTRY AMERICA, NOT OBAMA'S!!!!! the more government involvement the less truth and straightforwardness the American people needlessly endure!! How can America trust a man who depreciates his priority by neglecting to protect and secure four Americans he left defenseless in a land that hates America(ns) but wants us to trust him to run this country he's failed in 4 years? "We can't go back to the same policies" but he won't mention the "change" in policies until it's already happened with no thorough thought.

    2. NotPrey says:

      As James Madison wrote (paraphrased), I find no provision in the Constitution allowing for charity.
      I want constitutional government. End ALL federal welfare programs immediatlely. I am not a prey animal.

    3. George says:

      The single largest driver of current welfare dependency is the breakdown of the traditional family with ever rising % of births to unwed mothers. A true “war on poverty” must be waged on many fronts, starting with our churches to strongly promote traditional marriage BEFORE conceiving a child. It will require real leadership from all elected officials to promote and encourage the same. Current welfare programs which promote and reward unwed births must be reformed. Rewards should go to those who take responsibility, including financially, for their dependents instead of putting that burden on the taxpayers.

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