CHN: House GOP Releases Poverty Plan
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and the House Republican Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity and Upward Mobility released their talking points for fighting poverty on Tuesday, June 7. It was not well-received by advocates or Democrats in Congress, and the Washington Post’s editorial writers criticized its “fatal lack of specificity.” While sparse on specific policy recommendations, the plan hints at an intention to reduce cash assistance and vaguely favors limiting federal funding through block grants and/or combined funding for multiple programs, which would allow states to change rules in programs such as SNAP, low-income housing assistance, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, and child care. It also includes a proposal for more state flexibility to set standards similar to the House Child Nutrition Reauthorization bill’s three-state block grant proposal for school meals (for more information on this, see the related article in this Human Needs Report). According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the plan appears to call for extending rigid, often unrealistic work requirements to other forms of basic support, particularly rental assistance. These approaches are seen by advocates as likely to increase poverty, not reduce it. While not expected to result in specific legislation this year, Speaker Ryan said the GOP report is “a legislative agenda for 2017 with a new president.”
Advocates noted that the plan did not include specifics on policies that are known to lift people out of poverty, including investing in good jobs, raising the minimum wage, ensuring an adequate safety net, adopting family-friendly work policies such as paid medical leave and predictable hours, and investing in human capital through a sound education system. The plan also does not include expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to provide assistance to childless workers and noncustodial parents, a proposal that Speaker Ryan and Democrats have both supported in the past.
Advocates also compared the plan with the budget approved by the House Budget Committee earlier this year, which would cut low- and moderate-income programs by $3.7 trillion over 10 years, equal to three-fifths of its total cuts, while protecting tax cuts for the wealthy and for corporations. Under that budget, 42 percent of all federal resources for low-income programs would disappear by 2026.
CHN issued a statement and published a blog post about the plan and compiled statements and analyses of the plan from affiliates on a new resource page. CHN, along with several cosponsors, will also be hosting an event to discuss what works – and what doesn’t – to reduce poverty and expand opportunity on Thursday, June 16, 1-3pm ET. The event will be live-streamed and viewers as well as attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions. All registrants will receive links to related reports and analyses. To register, click here.