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Ryan report: Welfare programs making poverty worse

March 3, 2014 at 1:53 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, March 3 (UPI) -- House Budget Committee leader Paul Ryan of Wisconsin delivered a 204-page critique of the nation's anti-poverty programs Monday, saying they make poverty worse.

"Federal programs are not only failing to address the problem. They are also in some significant respects making it worse," Ryan's report said.

The report found the federal poverty rate is 15 percent, a drop of only 2.5 percentage points since President Lyndon Johnson opened his "War on Poverty" in the 1960s, despite federal spending of $799 billion on 92 programs in fiscal 2012, the Hill reported.

Of the $799 billion spent, $200 billion was in cash aid and $300 billion was on healthcare.

On food stamps, Ryan's report said the $78 billion per year program "reduces poverty, but not by much," and argued food stamps discourage work, the Hill said.

"Clearly, we can do better," Ryan said. "We can rework these federal programs and help families in need lead lives of dignity."

Ryan's report was released the day before President Obama is to release his fiscal year 2015 budget proposal.

The poverty report said many means-tested federal aid programs discourage work by imposing an effective marginal tax once people stop receiving assistance and find employment, the Hill said.

"We need to take a hard look at what the federal government is doing and ask, 'Is this working?'" Ryan said. "This report will help start the conversation. It shows that some programs work; others don't. And for many of them, we just don't know."

The report praised the Earned Income Tax Credit, but was critical of the Pell Grants program for college students and Head Start.

© 2014 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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