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Speeches and Floor Statements

Paul Ryan on Fighting Poverty: We All Have a Role to Play

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January 09, 2014 | comments

NBC News' In Plain Sight interview with Brian Williams

Well, I wish I had all the answers. I don’t. But I think where we can find a lot of these answers is go into these communities, and talk to the people fighting these adversities. And go find the people who are actually succeeding in fighting poverty.

If you go seven miles from here to Anacostia, which is a very tough neighborhood, you’ll talk to Bishop Shirley Holloway, who took over an entire housing complex. The guy who went to read the meters for the water company had to have a police escort because he got mugged doing that. This was drug-infested, gang-infested, and just this one woman has turned [her] neighborhood around, has got families living together, people in addiction counseling, getting their lives back together, and getting out of poverty. . . .

Darrell Webster in Indianapolis, in the toughest neighborhood in Indianapolis, a lot of murders. He runs this boot camp where he takes men coming from prison, and he puts them through a really tough boot camp for a couple of months to help them turn their lives around and embrace their families and their kids, and it’s very successful. . . .

We want to get suburban churches to help the inner-city churches to help each other. Things like this, which is reviving civil society in our communities, along with better federal ideas, eliminating the poverty trap. And don’t forget we have got to have economic growth. We have to have job creation, and we have to have job creation in these places that haven’t seen it in a long time.


We must reintegrate the poor. We must do the kind of things that help people get their lives back together. That means education. That means income support. That means a church. That means a family. That means civil society. It’s a multifaceted approach, which means all hands on deck. Don’t just pay your taxes and hope the government is going to fix it. We want people to get involved in their communities. And I think there is a lot the government has done to frustrate that, to displace civil society, which is a real key middle space between a person and her government that involves people helping each other.

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