Ryan unveils Republican anti-poverty plan

By Lindsey Holden, Medill News Service  |  July 24, 2014 at 8:42 PM
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July 24, 2014 WASHINGTON -- Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House budget committee, put forward Thursday a Republican plan to combat poverty that would alter the existing social services structure.

Ryan's proposal would integrate state service providers, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program -- food stamps -- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and child-care and housing programs into one grant. States would distribute the money to various private, public and non-profit aid agencies, which would then create different plans tailored for each eligible person.

"It's not your garden-variety block grant, where you just sort of cut a check to the states and call it a day. This is very different because...there can be abuses with that," Ryan, R-Wis., said.

"This Opportunity Grant is designed to streamline the funding streams into one grant that is there to have customized and personalized aid to each person." Ryan's plan also favors making mandatory minimum sentencing laws more flexible and extending the Earned Income Tax Credit to cover individuals without children. To pay for the tax credit, Ryan suggests cutting programs he deems ineffective, including the Social Services Block Grant, the Fresh Fruits and Vegetables program and the Economic Development Administration.

Rep. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., ranking Democrat on the budget committee, said he's happy to see Ryan joining with Democrats on reforming mandatory minimum sentencing and extending the Earned Income Tax Credit. Van Hollen said he appreciated Ryan's desire to use evidence-based research in developing his blueprint.

But Van Hollen doesn't think Ryan's overall plan will be effective.

"We welcome constructive ideas, and I mentioned three areas of possible agreement," Van Hollen said.

"But when it comes to their core proposal here, it's not a new idea -- it's part of an ongoing effort to essentially block grant more things to the states and, ironically, at the same time, impose new Washington, D.C. conditions."

Ryan, the Republican nominee for vice president in 2012, did not spell out what's next for his plan in the legislative process.

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