Paul Ryan Calls For Poverty Shaming and Block Grants in “New” Anti-Poverty plan

Ryan on anti poverty plan

Paul Ryan, apparently thought of as the great Republican policy wonk, released his “new” anti-poverty plan on Thursday.  This plan is the result of Ryan’s quest to learn about poverty on his so-called listening tour. Ironically, during his “listening tour” Ryan did all he could to avoid listening to people who actually live in poverty.

To be fair, Ryan did figure out that expanding the earned tax credit would be a good idea.  He has figured out that that poor people need more cash.  He is open to prison and sentencing reform.  He also figured out that just telling the poor to pray more is not exactly the wonkiest way to address poverty.

Other than that, Ryan’s latest plan really amounts to proposing block grants again while indulging in more of the paternalistic poverty shaming for which Ryan and others in the Republican Party are infamous.

Ryan proposes consolidating SNAP, welfare and housing-assistance programs to establish a sort of one stop shaming for assistance.  The idea of simplifying access to assistance is appealing, at least until you get into the details Ryan’s proposal.

In exchange for consolidating assistance, Ryan has some ways to make sure that people seeking cash assistance are properly humiliated.  They must sign a contract containing “specific and measurable benchmarks for success” with a timeline of course.  Just to make certain that the signee knows that Ryan is serious there will be sanctions for breaking the contract’s terms and incentives for fulfilling them.  Finally, Ryan wants poor families to work with a life coach to make sure someone keeps a watchful eye on their efforts to fulfill their contractual obligations.

This is more of the same Republican rhetoric that blames the poor for being poor and assumes that they are too lazy and stupid to dig themselves out of poverty.  There is nothing in Ryan’s plan to address the fact that many people are poor because there are more job seekers than there are jobs.  Moreover, there is a shortage of jobs that pay above poverty wages.  Forcing people to sign something requiring them to get a job is not going to change that.

There is nothing in Ryan’s proposal to create more jobs – let alone jobs that pay a living wage.  Perhaps Ryan believes that if people just realized they could choose or pray their way out of poverty, jobs that pay a living wage will create themselves.

This is about shaming people for being poor in ways that the middle class and the rich are spared.  Can you imagine Ryan & Co. demanding that corporations sign a contract and get a life coach in exchange for corporate welfare?  Can you imagine Ryan telling Walmart that, in exchange for getting to dodge their taxes, they must sign a contract complete with time line requiring them to pay their employees a living wage?

Moreover, as Annie Lowrey points out in her excellent take down of Ryan’s latest attempt to humiliate people for seeking assistance, Ryan also threatens to impose collective punishment if the contract signer breaks the contract.

Let’s say you’re a single mom with five kids. You break your contract. You get “sanctioned” — a term normally used for money-launderers, terrorists, and narcotics traffickers, by the way. You suffer, and you fall deeper into poverty. But more to the point, your children suffer.

The reality is that 40% of Americans will experience poverty at one point in their lives, because of circumstances – not personal failings. As Mark R. Rank pointed out in 2013,

Events like losing a job, having work hours cut back, experiencing a family split or developing a serious medical problem all have the potential to throw households into poverty.

As I mentioned earlier, Ryan used this opportunity to re-pitch block grants.  Historically, block grants have resulted in cuts to safety net programs.  One example is TANF block grants that have declined by 30% over the past 16 years.

Even if you accept the notion that there must be a healthy dose of humiliation for those seeking assistance, this proposal is more proof that Ryan, the great policy wonk, doesn’t know how to add up the numbers in his budgetary proposals.  He claims this policy is “deficit neutral.”

When the Center for American Progress crunched the numbers, when considered with his latest budget proposal guess what? The numbers don’t add up.

Rep. Ryan claims that his new proposal to reform the safety net is “deficit neutral.” But it cannot be separated from his most recent budget proposal, in which 69 percent of his nearly $5 trillion in cuts over 10 years comes from programs helping low- and moderate-income families. Either his new recommendations will ultimately result in cuts to programs helping struggling families or he will fail to balance the budget.

In other words, while there are some ideas worth considering, this is just another one of lying Ryan’s attempts to repackage old ideas, albeit with new ways to humiliate low-income earners.

Image: NPR

19 Replies to “Paul Ryan Calls For Poverty Shaming and Block Grants in “New” Anti-Poverty plan”

  1. Lyin’ Ryan is at it again, thinking people are too stupid and/or lazy to actually add up his theft from the lower classes, his punishing children because their parent’s jobs got outsourced, and nothing came back. God this prick makes me sick. He should go back to playing Eddie Munster on TV.

  2. So he’s going to assign every poor family a ‘life coach?’ Get idea, Paul. Who’s going to pay for that? Our schools used to provide this service..a counselor in every elementary school to help struggling kids and their families. Several in each building at the higher grades. Gee, we even and school nurses once upon a time.
    Guess who cut funding for schools time and time again? It wasn’t Democrats. And guess who refuses to even vote on a Jobs Bill? And people will vote for more of this crap?? Wake up, America. If the GOP takes over, this nation is through.

  3. A friend called me today. Her SNAP benefits were cut from $189.00 per month down to $80.00. When she asked why, she was told because of you are bringing in $632.00 per month.
    Back story is this: She moved out of her home, she rents it out for $1500.00, her mortgage is $868.00 per month. She pays her sister $300.00 per month for rent, and is left with $332.00 per month. She owns a 1994 Honda Accord LX, the tags are expired, costing $87.00 to renew. She cannot afford insurance and seldom can fill the tank up, which is roughly $50.00.
    She used to have a successful business until Dubya burned down the house and threw us into a recession. Can I say She and I both despise Paul Ryan and his ilk? Ryan is a joke, with a mile high ego, thinking he can fix the impoverished! He has nothing original to offer!

  4. So Lying Ryan wants to enact penalties on poor people. When Ryan advocates penalties on corporations that outsource jobs, then maybe I’ll listen to something he may be saying.

  5. Paul Ryan is still pushing his ‘Path to Prosperity,’ every year we get a new sell pitch, but its the same garbage. Not impress.

  6. My thoughts exactly on every point except the last sentence. I think Lyin’ Ryan should just go home, shut the door, and never, ever be heard from or seen in public again. It is he who needs to be shamed and shunned.

  7. cannot forget when Ryan was with Romney campaigning at the Villages in Florida, he was using his 70 something mother as an accessory on the stage saying that he would never do anything to social security or medicare, that would hurt people just like his mother.

    All the time he was busy trying to convert medicare to a voucher plan that would have cost seniors thousand and thousands of dollar (that they do not have)

  8. Yup! And I guarantee that those seniors, and/or their families, don’t have Ryan’s kind of money to foot the bill for their care when these programs are cut to shreds.

  9. Life Coaches should be assigned to the dumb politicians. Did they forget what their jobs are? Representing THEIR constituents not promoting themselves to a job for life while doing very little work. They should have to go home one week a month, to town hall meetings, meet with the people who elected them and answer questions. Any working class person who votes for the gop or Tea Party needs a mental exam.

  10. Paul Ryan is not nearly as smart as he is made out to be. His plans are nothing more than regurgitated fluff.

    He thinks people are poor because they don’t have the drive to not be poor, which means he doesn’t even realize that most people who are poor work – and work more than one job trying to make ends meet. His plans would hurt children as well.

    I’ve seen no evidence that he actually cares about people. They’re line items on a spreadsheet to him, nothing more and nothing less. He sees people in terms of black and white (and I don’t mean race); they are “this” because of “that” and that’s about as far as his thinking goes.

    He should investigate the real reasons for poverty in this country and address those reasons, not run about the country on some “tour” so he can say he “knows” what poor people are dealing with and he’s come to their rescue with a “plan” that will do nothing to actually help them.

    But hey, he went on a tour so he can say he…

  11. Let’s see Paul Ryan take his own challenge with his family for a year.

    Freeze bank accounts, reduce any employment income to minimum wage (even his wife’s) if she works. No income other than min. wage should be incoming to the family. Rent an apartment, buy your own health insurance, etc.

    You go ahead Mr. Ryan, try it for a year and then get back to us.

  12. Got that right, and he is an arrogant bastard as well. HE did not make his money, his family did with government contracts. What a hypocrite.

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