Paul Ryan pushes his anti-poverty plan

House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s (R-Wisc.) plan to combat poverty is an attempt to “change the focus” and prioritized “customized” plans that help people get into the middle class, he said on Sunday.

“We don’t want to have a poverty management system that simply perpetuates poverty,” he said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

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“What we’re proposing here is have benefits that are customized and meaningful to the problem, because poverty is very complicated – to not just keep them where they are but help them get where they want to be.”

“The federal government’s approach has ended up maintaining poverty,” he added, by in some cases making it easier for people to stay home and collect government benefits rather than start at a new low-paying job. 

Ryan, the former vice presidential candidate, this week laid out a sweeping new plan centered around a new Opportunity Grant, which would consolidate nearly a dozen federal programs into a single chunk of money sent to states. The plan would not cut the amount of money earmarked for helping the poor, he has maintained, but would instead change the way that it is handed out. 

Current federal safety net initiatives ignore the actual impact that they have in ending poverty, he said on Sunday.

“I want to have a conversation about how to adjust the outcome,” Ryan said.

By giving states more flexibility in the way they spend taxpayers’ money to combat poverty, they would be able to craft more localized programs that would be measured by a neutral third party to ensure they are working well, he argued.

The push comes at a critical time ahead of the 2016 presidential election season. After President Obama’s focus on income inequality, which helped secure his reelection in 2012, many potential Republican presidential candidates have worked to craft new proposals that voters may find more appealing.   

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