Paul Ryan’s Fight against Poverty
Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Janesville) recently released a House Budget Committee report titled 'The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later.' The report takes an in depth look at dozens of government programs aimed at fighting poverty. However, even after trillions of tax dollars have been spent to solve the problem, the poverty rate has only inched lower. Ryan now hopes to find out why the programs are not working, and what can actually be done to combat poverty in America. During a recent town hall meeting in Wisconsin's 1st Congressional District, Ryan spoke with the MacIver Institute in an exclusive interview about the report.
During a recent town-hall meeting in Wisconsin’s First Congressional District, Congressman Paul Ryan spoke with the MacIver Institute about his work against poverty.
MacIver: Ryan also discussed some of his experiences traveling to these poor areas of the country and said he is hopeful there is still time to win the fight against poverty.
Paul Ryan: If you can go into various neighborhoods and see the good things that are happening, it gives you a lot of inspiration. It gives you hope. Go to Running Rebels in Milwaukee, and see this mentor program they put in place to get young kids who have troubled backgrounds get on their feet and get on the right path in life.
Look at Violence Free Zones. Go to Pulaski High School. They had 14 gangs in Pulaski High School two years ago. Now they have no gangs. They have this mentorship program consisting of people who went through tough times in life—people who were in gangs themselves—making sure that these kids get on the right path. Graduation rates are going up, tardiness is going down. . . .
I was in San Antonio—in western San Antonio, in the barrio—with a ministry called Outcry in the Barrio. They’re taking heroin addicts off the street, bringing them into their program. And if they go through their program, they have about a 60 to 80 percent success rate of getting people off of heroin for good. There are so many good things that are happening out there. I call them these sort of antibodies in our communities that are fighting against the trend—that are actually giving people hope. And what it involves is people getting involved.
MacIver: The congressman said it is imperative that individuals get involved in their communities because for too long many people have assumed that the fight against poverty was not their problem.
Paul Ryan: People have been just sort of given this notion that, “Pay your taxes, and government will fix this problem; don’t worry about it.” That’s not true. If poverty was just about material deprivation—and in some cases it is—but it’s also more than that. It’s about, like I say, isolation. It’s about addiction. It’s about being stuck in a failing school or abuse or needing a mentor. That means people need to get involved. That means people in their communities need to see and fight poverty eye to eye, soul to soul, person to person. And I think you can not underestimate or understate the importance of that.