Washington, D.C. — Melissa Boteach, Vice President of the Poverty and Prosperity Program at the Center for American Progress, issued the following reaction to the U.S. House Budget Committee report on poverty released today by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI):
Rep. Ryan wrongly labeled the War on Poverty a failure—what has really failed is our nation’s economy, which is not producing enough living wage jobs to help people move into the middle class. Rep. Ryan’s review of safety net programs misses the fact that without the programs we have in place, America’s poverty rate would be nearly twice as high.
Our safety net can be strengthened to provide a better pathway into the middle class but cutting more programs is not the way to get there. If Rep. Ryan’s past proposals are any indication of how he seeks to move forward, he will look to cut poor people’s access to housing, food, and education, rather than improving their access to good jobs.
As we consider reforms to strengthen the safety net and lift people out of poverty, solutions should first do no harm and not exacerbate poverty and inequality. We can adjust to the reality of more mothers working and changing family structure with policies such as high quality childcare and early childhood education, paid family leave, paid sick days, and closing the gender pay gap. We can tackle the need for greater workforce development through expanding policies such as apprenticeships. And we could actually reduce the safety net spending that Rep. Ryan decries by raising the minimum wage so that fewer families are working full-time and still living in poverty.
- The War on Poverty: Then and Now by Melissa Boteach, Erik Stegman, Sarah Baron, Tracey Ross, and Katie Wright
- 50 Years After LBJ’s War on Poverty: A Study of American Attitudes About Work, Economic Opportunity, and the Social Safety Net by John Halpin and Karl Agne
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