Ryan calls out GOP in anti-poverty fight

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanKenosha will be a good bellwether in 2020 At indoor rally, Pence says election runs through Wisconsin Juan Williams: Breaking down the debates MORE (R-Wis.) is calling out Republicans for not being “on the field enough” in the national fight against poverty in an online documentary series that will be released Thursday.

In one scene of the six-part Opportunity Lives series, titled “Comeback,” Ryan is shown sitting next to Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) at a recent anti-poverty meeting with African-American and other community leaders in Dallas.


“Eddie and I have known each other for a long time. We play on different teams, but we’ve got the same goals and one team, in my case, hasn’t been on the field enough lately,” Ryan tells the group.

“What I would love to see is a competition of ideas where we’re not just treating symptoms so we can tolerate something more like poverty, but actually breaking the back of poverty, hitting the root causes,” the Speaker continues. “What we learned is you can’t sit in some ivory tower in any big city and think you’ve got it all figured out. It’s really the people together.”

The documentary provides a behind-the-scenes look at some of Ryan’s years-long effort to combat poverty in many of America's grittiest inner cities. It's an approach that focuses on getting people back to work and out of food-stamp and other safety-net programs — what Ryan has called the “hammock” of dependency.

Poverty is also one of the six planks of Ryan’s “A Better Way” election-year policy agenda for House Republicans. But the platform has largely been overshadowed by brash and bombastic GOP presidential nominee Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpFederal prosecutor speaks out, says Barr 'has brought shame' on Justice Dept. Former Pence aide: White House staffers discussed Trump refusing to leave office Progressive group buys domain name of Trump's No. 1 Supreme Court pick MORE’s no-holds-barred campaign.

The documentary series, too, is trying to cut through the noise of the unpredictable 2016 presidential election. Opportunity Lives, a conservative news site, will release the six episodes of the “Comeback” series Thursday, featuring poverty fighters in places such as Denver, Elyria, Ohio, Racine, Wis. It launched a first "season" with seven episodes last year.

South Carolina Sen. Tim ScottTimothy (Tim) Eugene ScottAuthor Ryan Girdusky: RNC worked best when highlighting 'regular people' as opposed to 'standard Republicans' Now is the time to renew our focus on students and their futures GOP lobbyists pleasantly surprised by Republican convention MORE, the only black Republican in the upper chamber who recently gave a moving speech about his own experiences with police racial profiling, also appears in the series.

"Poverty in America isn’t going away,” Ryan said in a statement. “We may not read about it in the headlines every day, but it's still persistent across our country and we need to confront it head on.”

Opportunity Lives is run by Editor in Chief John Hart, who served as a top aide to former Sen. Tom CoburnThomas (Tom) Allen CoburnCOVID response shows a way forward on private gun sale checks Inspector general independence must be a bipartisan priority in 2020 Congress must protect federal watchdogs MORE (R-Okla.). The group is affiliated with the Kemp Forum, an anti-poverty summit that both Ryan and Scott hosted in South Carolina earlier this year. That event was sponsored by the Jack Kemp Foundation, the organization charged with carrying on the legacy of the late anti-poverty crusader, Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.), the one-time presidential candidate and Housing and Urban Affairs secretary who served as one of Ryan’s earliest political mentors.