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Paul Ryan Discusses the First District Mobile Office and Ways to Fight Poverty

The Wake Up Call with Bill Lawrence, AM 1050 WLIP

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May 05, 2014 | comments

Congressman Paul Ryan spoke with WLIP’s Bill Lawrence about the First District Mobile Office, which will visit several southern Wisconsin communities this week, and his meeting with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Excerpts of Congressman Ryan’s responses follow:

Serving the People of the First District with the Mobile Office

“What we do is we have this office that a staff member manages during the weekdays, and we park it in the town centers of the smaller towns throughout the First District, so that people who have problems with the federal government can come and bring us their problems.

“We can download all their information, and then we can go back to our office and work on their problem. For some, it could be a problem with veteran benefits, Medicare benefits, Social Security, or disability. And a lot of seniors use this service because they don’t want to get in the car and drive to Kenosha, Racine, or Janesville, where my permanent offices are.

“So, we bring my office to them, so we can work on their problem right there in their town. It helps us do what we call casework, to help people navigate the federal bureaucracy, which is causing them some problems.”

Learning How to Fight Poverty

“I’ve been working on new ideas to fight poverty. A year ago, when we looked at the 50th anniversary of the War on Poverty, we decided to do a big, deep dive into the federal government’s poverty programs to try and give an assessment as to whether or not they’re working or are effective, given we’ve spent trillions on trillions of dollars on poverty programs. But deep poverty is the highest ever recorded, and the actual poverty rate is the highest in a generation. It’s not working the way it needs to be.

“So, we’ve been spending the last year getting ideas. I’ve been going around to communities in America and here in Milwaukee, learning from people who are on the front lines fighting poverty and [learning] from people getting out of poverty as to what works and what doesn’t. I’ve been putting some ideas out there, and that’s what the idea exchange with the Congressional Black Caucus was about. We exchanged ideas of better ways of fighting poverty.

“When you talk about this issue, it can raise a lot of sensitivities. You have to make sure that you speak in a way that is inclusive and that everybody understands exactly what you’re saying.  The way I look at it is, we all need to bring our ideas to the table—from every perspective, from every political philosophy—to see where there’s common ground, where we can come together to have better ideas of fighting poverty. If the status quo isn’t working, then we should challenge that status quo. That’s what I’m doing.

“It can sometimes be controversial, but I think it’s really important. If things aren’t working the way they ought to be today, and we’re investing trillions of dollars of taxpayer money and still losing people in our communities who aren’t getting out of poverty, then we need to shake up that status quo and try a new approach. That’s the kind of thing we’re trying to do.”

Reducing the Deficit and Restoring the Appropriations Process

“As you know, we passed our budget about three weeks ago now. For the fourth year in a row, we’ve passed a plan in the House to balance the budget, pay off the debt, and save Medicare. Unfortunately, as you also know, the Senate is not going to do a budget this year. In part that’s because we already have a two-year agreement. That’s what the Murray–Ryan agreement is; it’s a two-year agreement. But House Republicans also wanted to show how to actually fix the budget. 

“The [Murray–Ryan] budget agreement stopped government shutdowns and had a modest down-payment on deficits. Once we passed our budget in the House, that triggered what we call the appropriations process, and that is now underway—the earliest it’s been in years. Congress is now going through each government agency, rewriting their budgets, and passing them on the floor of Congress. Anybody can bring an amendment to change something, if they want to. That’s the legislative process—the power of the purse—that has been restored to Congress now for the first time in a few years. We just started this process last week, and it will take us through the end of the summer.”

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