Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he is confident that presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, if elected president in November, would help move legislation based on the "Better Way" agenda into law. (Photo: Gage Skidmore/flickr/cc)

Ryan's GOP Regurgitates "Anti-Poverty" Policies that Amount to War on Poor

"It's more about reducing government spending than it is about helping the less fortunate."

Deirdre Fulton

Continuing the GOP's war on the poor, Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans unveiled an ostensibly new "anti-poverty" plan on Tuesday, marked by cuts to critical safety-net programs and further austerity.

According to Politico, "much of this latest initiative is repackaged GOP proposals"—and the last time around, those ideas weren't very popular

Politico's John Bresnahan reports that much of the plan is

focused on reforming federal welfare programs. The GOP recommendations include: expanded work requirements for those receiving federal welfare, food or housing assistance; more "flexibility" for state and local governments to improve programs, although what that means isn't always fully defined; consolidation of dozens of existing federal programs into fewer, better run efforts; improved accountability for federal programs while "rewarding" those which show the best results; more effectively target those Americans in greatest need of help; and reducing waste and duplication, a mantra for politicians in both parties every election year.

House Republicans call for the use of more "public-private partnerships" to fight poverty, better technology, and vastly improved metrics in measuring the effectiveness of federal programs, as well as more oversight by Congress into the hundreds of billions of dollars funneled to low-income Americans annually. "Altogether... total federal and state spending on programs for low-income people currently equals about $1 trillion per year," the GOP report states.

The plan also seeks to expand "school choice," which allocates public funds for charter schools and other alternatives; slash support for higher education Pell Grants; repeal the Labor Department's "fiduciary rule," which protects retirees from greedy brokers; and dismantle parts of the Dodd-Frank bank reform law—all in the name of reducing poverty, Ryan claims. 

"The Republicans would like to shed their 'party of the rich' image without actually going to the trouble of changing their policies, and the anti-poverty push is part of that."
—Simon Maloy, Salon

Unfortunately, Ryan's core argument—that anti-poverty spending has been inefficient—is spurious, political writer Simon Maloy wrote at Salon on Tuesday. In fact, programs like SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) have done their job quite well, he argued, pointing to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analysis that showed the program "kept about 10.3 million people out of poverty, including about 4.9 million children" in 2012 alone.

Yet "[w]hat Ryan and the House Republicans want to do," Maloy said, "is alter its funding mechanism and cut its overall funding to make it (and other anti-poverty programs) less responsive and less effective."

Indeed, Maloy wrote:

The Republicans would like to shed their "party of the rich" image without actually going to the trouble of changing their policies, and the anti-poverty push is part of that – they're going to gut social programs that are working as they should be, all the while claiming that they’re "fixing" a problem that doesn't really exist. It's more about reducing government spending than it is about helping the less fortunate.

The anti-poverty plan is one of several proposals the GOP will unroll over the next three weeks as part of its election-year blueprint, titled "A Better Way." According to the Huffington Post, a proposal on national security will be released on Thursday while initiatives on regulation, constitutional authority, healthcare, and tax reform are in the pipeline.

On Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers lambasted not only the proposal itself but also Ryan's choice of location for the unveiling: a drug and alcohol rehab facility in Washington, D.C.

But perhaps it's not surprising that Ryan and establishment Republicans are so out of touch. As Philadelphia mom Tianna Gaines-Turner wrote in a powerful op-ed on Monday: "How would Congress ever know what they should do to address poverty if they don’t ever speak to us?"


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

UN Chief Warns Humanity Is 'Unacceptably Close to Nuclear Annihilation'

"Now is the time to lift the cloud of nuclear conflict for good," United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said ahead of the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons.

Jake Johnson ·


Coalition Slams UN Food Summit for Peddling 'Corporate-Led False Solutions' to Hunger

"The U.N. has finally made it clear what 'multilateralism' is all about—paying lip service to the people while skewing priorities for the interests of imperialists and monopoly capitalists."

Jake Johnson ·


'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo