Rep. Paul Ryan is making a comeback and his new platform will be to do battle with the rising poverty in America.
Since February, Ryan (R-Wis.) has been quietly visiting inner-city neighborhoods with another old Kemp ally, Bob Woodson, the 76-year-old civil rights activist and anti-poverty crusader, to talk to ex-convicts and recovering addicts about the means of their salvation.
Ryan’s staff, meanwhile, has been trolling center-right think tanks and intellectuals for ideas to replace the “bureaucratic, top-down anti-poverty programs” that Ryan blames for “wrecking families and communities” since Lyndon B. Johnson declared a war on poverty in 1964.
Next year, for the 50th anniversary of that crusade, Ryan hopes to roll out an anti-poverty plan to rival his budgetary Roadmap for America’s Future in scope and ambition. He is also writing a book about what’s next for the GOP, recalling the 1979 tome that detailed Kemp’s vision under the subtitle, “The Brilliant Young Congressman’s Plan for a Return to Prosperity.”
Ryan “has always been more than the budget guy. His vision is much broader than that,” said Bill Bennett, a conservative political theorist who worked with Kemp at Empower America, where Ryan got his start. “You can’t be the governing party unless you offer people a way out of poverty.”
This is my favorite line in the entire article:
Paul wants people to dream again,” Holloway said of Ryan. “You don’t dream when you’ve got food stamps.”
Now I agree that needing food stamps is a nightmare, but he cares only because the government is giving help to the Poors. I bet you can guess what some of his main talking points will be, even before he unveils them. Here's a few I quickly came up with.
*Government assistance programs are the root of the problem because they turn people away from their dreams and into a dependence society.
* Jesus Saves!
* Vouchers for everyone!
* Food stamps are evil!
* Jesus Saves!
* Tax cuts create ingenuity!
* Jesus Saves!
* More vouchers for everyone!
Why have I included Jesus in his solution?
The takeaway for Ryan, a Catholic, has been explicitly religious. “You cure poverty eye to eye, soul to soul,” he said last week at the Heritage forum. “Spiritual redemption: That’s what saves people.”
Jesus isn't the problem here. It's fools like Ryan using religion and religious icons to further their ambitions that hurt the people that Jesus fought to protect: the Poors. The Washington Post article uses a lot of quotes and flowery language, but contains no actual ideas from the Paul camp. I think he's busy re-reading Atlas Shrugged and brushing up on his Ayn Rand.
“Washington has gummed up the works,” Ryan told the Iowa crowd. “It’s made it harder for people to get ahead, and the idea of upward mobility, of equal opportunity, is slipping farther and farther away from people who haven’t seen it for generations. . . . We can restore America as the party of equal opportunity to show how these ideas can prevail.”
I agree with him that D.C. has helped destroy the middle class, because conservative ideas have gummed up the works in Washington for far too long.
Ryan’s new emphasis on social ills doesn’t imply that he’s willing to compromise with Democrats on spending more government money. His idea of a war on poverty so far relies heavily on promoting volunteerism and encouraging work through existing federal programs, including the tax code. That’s a skewed version of Kempism, which recognizes that “millions of Americans look to government as a lifeline,” said Bruce Bartlett, a historian who worked for Kemp and has become an acerbic critic of the modern GOP.
Yes, let's all step up and volunteer for something. That's the ticket. But you know people will need to eat food to be able to volunteer and cutting billions from the SNAP program (food stamps) isn't going to help his cause much. And you know how much Republicans hate food stamps:
At the Capitol last week, the conservative Heritage Foundation held a day-long anti-poverty forum to examine the historic rise in food-stamp dependency since the recession and methods of prison rehabilitation. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah), who led the push to defund Obama’s new health-insurance initiative, gave the keynote address, arguing for a revival of “civil society,” volunteerism and charity.
“The focus on limiting government spending will continue to be important, but it’s not enough,” Lee said afterward. With Democrats in control of the Senate and the White House, “it’s easy for us to get stuck in the ‘no’ position. But the fact is we have to have a policy agenda.”
Whatever he comes up with in his anti-poverty proposals, you know the Beltway elites will praise him for it.
The substance of Ryan’s anti-poverty agenda remains yet to be announced, but the general spirit of the endeavor can already be discerned from Ryan’s previous remarks, and those of the allies helping him formulate it. Ryan believes that the main impediment facing poor people is the existence of government programs that give them money and health care – a problem his budget rectifies by cutting subsidies to the poor. Those subsidies, Ryan hassaid, amount to “a hammock that lulls able-bodied people to lives of dependency and complacency, that drains them of their will and their incentive to make the most of their lives.”
Ryan’s new line seems similar to the old one:
“Paul wants people to dream again,” Holloway said of Ryan. “You don’t dream when you’ve got food stamps.”
In fact, lots of people who survived on food stamps — like J.K. Rowling — went on to achieve great things.
The other emerging element of Ryan’s anti-poverty agenda is Jesus:
“You cure poverty eye to eye, soul to soul,” he said last week at the Heritage forum. “Spiritual redemption: That’s what saves people.”
Basically, Ryan loves the poor the way fundamentalist Christians love gays.