Political Animal


October 24, 2012 4:59 PM A War of Poverty

By Ed Kilgore

I can’t find prepared remarks or a transcript just yet for Paul Ryan’s big “poverty” speech in Ohio today, but an account from The Hill probably tells you pretty much everything you need to know:

[Ryan] said a Romney administration would apply the pattern set by the welfare reform to preserving and strengthening other “safety net” programs, specifically by handing more power back to the states to tailor them to the needs of their residents.
“We will not defer to the Washington-knows-best crowd,” he promised. He described the work of several businessmen and private charities, saying he and Romney would defer to their example as they shaped public policy.

In other words, Medicaid and food stamps will be block-granted, which in the former case will (along with the repeal of ObamaCare) eliminate health insurance for 31 to 37 million poor people, and in the latter eliminate food assistance for a mere 10 million. And since Medicaid, food stamps and the earned-income-tax-credit (extremely unlikely to survive a Romney administration attack on “tax loopholes”) were key working-poor supports underlying welfare reform, it’s unlikely welfare reform will exactly thrive, either.

And so, the entire Romney/Ryan “poverty” strategy is basically to consign poor people to the bracing independence of relying on an unimaginable boom in jobs that will supposedly be produced by tax and spending cuts.

I’m kind of reminded of that scene from the Borat movie where our hero tells a rodeo crowd somewhere in the U.S. that the people of Kazakhstan “support your war of terror.”

I suspect Paul Ryan wants to wage a “war of poverty.”

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • Danp on October 24, 2012 5:16 PM:

    It's not just "consigning people to embrace independence". It's consigning industry to third world states with third world wages, while headquarters go to blue states.

  • T2 on October 24, 2012 5:16 PM:

    more like a war on people suffering from poverty.
    There's no secrets here. What guys like Ryan want is a roll-back of any social programs that use money collected in income taxes. That would include Medicare and Social Security. They say they want to "tweak" those programs and "trim wasteful programs" but what they actually intend to do is eliminate them. And if that results in a population of poverty ridden elderly, poverty ridden poorly schooled twenty-somethings, minorities and pretty much everyone else in the 99%, then that's "success" in their book. By the time the TeaParty dullards carrying their water now finally wake up, they'll be fighting dogs for food.

  • RepublicanPointOfView on October 24, 2012 5:26 PM:

    And so, the entire Romney/Ryan “poverty” strategy is basically to consign poor people to the bracing independence of relying on an unimaginable boom in jobs that will supposedly be produced by tax and spending cuts.

    Missed the boat again Ed! This is not the Vulture/Voucher ticket's entire "poverty" strategy. Another major component is to further reduce the size of the middle class and expand the size of the poor class.

    Willard & Paul understand that the real economic problems of our country are:
    - the wealthy do not have enough wealth
    - we have too large and an unsustainable middle class
    - the poor do not pay enough taxes

    I defy you or any of your readers to provide proof that Willard does not have an economic platform that will address all of these 'real' problems. Other presidents may have had their 'wars on poverty', President Romney will have a 'war on the empoverished'.

  • Marc on October 24, 2012 5:50 PM:

    I think "War on the Poor" has more of a ring to it.

  • Rick Massimo on October 24, 2012 5:52 PM:

    If this "program" gets enacted, I give it two years before some "innovative" GOP governor decides that the best way to use his state's Medicaid block grant is to use it to (partially) offset more tax cuts for rich people, because of course they'll use the extra money to create jobs, therefore reducing the number of people who need Medicaid down to just a few who have made bad enough choices in life that they should just die anyway (he won't say that part).

    And assuming a Romney 2012 victory (because that's the only way this'll be enacted), he'll be the GOP nominee in 2020.

  • SteveT on October 24, 2012 6:01 PM:

    Republican Supply-side Economics has always sounded to me like the business plan of the Underpants Gnomes from "South Park".

    Phase 1: Cut taxes of millionaires

    Phase 2: ? ? ?

    Phase 3: Prosperity!

    When that doesn't work, it won't be long before Republicans start talking favorably about Dickensian workhouses and debtor's prisons.

    The idea of using the "excess" poor to make Soylent Green probably won't come up until the Ryan administration.

  • c u n d gulag on October 24, 2012 6:15 PM:

    Ryan speaking about poverty, is like a Peckerologist having to talk about vagina surgery:
    A clue-free dick, lost in a cave.

  • Hue and Cry/sinister GOP on October 24, 2012 6:39 PM:

    Good example of what Republican-run states will do with block grants:


    "...By “the moral principles of the 1996 welfare reform” Sessions most likely means the budget engineered by vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan and passed by House Republicans, which block grants most low-income programs in the same way the 1996 reform did with welfare.
    Those block grants act as a smoke screen to hide massive cuts that slash Medicaid by a third in ten years — kicking 14 to 27 million people off the program — while driving spending on other low-income support programs down to their lowest levels in half a century. Beyond the ten year window, those cuts go even deeper. (There’s also a strong case that welfare reform made things worse for struggling families on its own terms.)..."

  • owh on October 24, 2012 6:52 PM:

    Weren't the Bush tax cuts that have been in effect for over a decade supposed to create jobs?

    So, where ARE those jobs.

    How long will we have to wait before they kick in?

  • Hue and Cry on October 24, 2012 7:02 PM:

    With no due respect, Congressman Ryan, tax cuts to the wealthy will not help the poor. Educational cuts to schools will not serve to educate. Eliminating social programs will not sustain the disadvantaged.
    Contrast his lying eyes with those of the nuns on the bus.
    He uses orwellian speech like a cunning despot.

    "It is a paradox that every dictator has climbed to power on the ladder of free speech."~~Herbert Hoover

    And we will have Hoovervilles with Ryan policies.

  • Michael on October 24, 2012 8:30 PM:

    I can put a face on these statistics for you: Mine.

    I've become disabled with a bitch of a chronic lung infection which requires me to take an antibiotic drug cocktail which leaves me even further debilitated.

    Were it not for MediCal, there's no way in hell I could even dream of affording these meds keeping me alive - it would cost nearly a grand a month. Not to mention the doctor appointments, blood work, lung scans...

    Thankfully I live in California - so I have a fighting chance of keeping my life-giving coverage even should the Fascist Party manage to steal another election.

    Were I a Red State denizen, you'd might as well start outfitting me for burial in Potter's Field.

    These Un-American monsters must not be permitted to succeed in their evil plans to dismantle our country.

  • howard on October 24, 2012 10:40 PM:

    Am I the only one who remembers what state control does to the underclass in too many states? Did Eisenhower send in troops because the southern states followed the rule of the Supreme Court in Brown vs. the Board of Ed?

    Dog whistle time, and some of us can hear it and don't like what we're hearing.

  • DRF on October 25, 2012 6:30 AM:

    No question about it, only a blind idealogue would really believe this proposal will help the poor. I think it's obvious that the real intention here is to limit the amount of taxpayer dollars going to support programs for the poor and to ultimately eliminate any redistributive effect of Federal spending.

    By the way, why would any sane person believe that 50 different state programs to fight poverty is a better pathway than one nationwide program? 50 organizational structures and 50 different bureaucracies is incredibly inefficient and wasteful. And states are disincentivized to adopt effective programs since they would likely attract the poor from other states. d

  • G.Kerby on October 25, 2012 10:11 AM:

    DRF and Howard nailed it.