Despite spending $800 billion a year at the federal level to help the nation’s poor, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) says the U.S. faces the highest poverty rate in a generation. The House Budget Committee chairman outlined a series of proposals Thursday during a speech to the American Enterprise Institute in Washington he says are aimed at improving the situation.
Part of Ryan’s plan would consolidate 11 national programs into a single funding stream, allowing states to test different ways of providing aid to those in need. He says the opportunity grant pilot program would allow states to voluntarily try out new methods for delivering the social safety net, which could then be tested and evaluated for broader implementation. The move is designed to allow those in poverty to visit just a single office to receive multiple critical services, rather than having to visit multiple agencies and deal with layers of red tape.
The Congressman’s plan, titled “Expanding Opportunity in America,” also calls for federal lawmakers to adopt a series of proposals offered by members on both sides of the political spectrum. Those include doubling the size of the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless adults, along with implementing reforms to the education system and in how the nation sets guidelines for rehabilitating non-violent criminal offenders.
Ryan says he hopes the proposals, developed with the help of stakeholders across the country, will help spark a national discussion about poverty and the fact that the nation “can do better” to address the problem.