News / USA

    US Lawmakers Disagree on How to Reduce Poverty

    FILE- Congressman Paul Ryan holds a copy of the 2014 Budget Resolution, March 2013.
    FILE- Congressman Paul Ryan holds a copy of the 2014 Budget Resolution, March 2013.
    Cindy Saine
    Fifty years after U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty, about 46 million Americans are living in poverty. Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan says government social welfare programs are not working, and it is time to listen to those fighting poverty on the front lines for different approaches. Democrats say things would be much worse, however, without government services for the poor.

    Democratic and Republican lawmakers faced off Wednesday at a hearing on the role of the government in helping to lift people out of poverty. Republican House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan said the government has failed.

    “I think we can all agree that Washington isn’t making anybody proud these days," said Ryan. "Right now, the federal government spends nearly $800 billion a year on 92 different programs to fight poverty. Yet the official poverty rate is the highest in a generation. And over the past three years, deep poverty has been the highest on record. Clearly, we can do better.”

    Related video report by Cindy Saine:
     
    As Congress Debates US Poverty, Relief Group Provides Servicesi
    X
    Cindy Saine
    May 01, 2014 9:40 PM
    Fifty years after President Lyndon Johnson declared war on poverty in the United States, some 46 million Americans - about 15 percent of the population - are living in poverty. On Capitol Hill, Republican and Democratic lawmakers disagree about the effectiveness of government programs aimed at helping those in need. VOA's Cindy Saine visited a Washington relief organization called Bread for the City to ask staff members and clients what they think.
    Most Democratic lawmakers strongly disagree, and oppose Ryan’s budget that would raise defense spending but sharply cut spending on domestic programs for the poor. It passed the House but not the Senate.

    The president of the non-profit group, the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, Robert Woodson, said the focus on government programs has created a whole industry of those who service the nation’s poor.

    “Seventy percent of all the dollars over the years that we have spent on the poor goes to those who serve poor people,” said Woodson.

    Woodson argued the focus should be on private enterprise giving people jobs. Ryan has come under criticism for remarks suggesting that some poor people in inner cities lack a culture of hard work. Democratic Representative Chris van Hollen accused Republicans of misunderstanding the roots of poverty.

    “But it adds insult to injury to claim, as Republicans do, that shredding the social safety net actually helps those who are struggling every day to make ends meet," said van Hollen. "This claim is based on a false and pernicious stereotype that many of these struggling individuals prefer to rely on these safety nets - sometimes mockingly referred to as hammocks - rather than get a job. This mindset is a fantasy world approach - that by dismantling anti-poverty programs, we will reduce poverty.”

    Ryan met Wednesday with members of the Congressional Black Caucus to discuss ways to reduce poverty. After the meeting, Democratic Congressional Black Caucus chair Marcia Fudge spoke to reporters.

    “We appreciate Chairman Ryan coming to our meeting. [We] did not get a whole lot accomplished, but we do agree on a number of things. One is that we are both concerned about the poverty in this country. We just disagree on how we address the problem,” she said.

    Fudge said Ryan agreed to invite members of the Congressional Black Caucus to present their views at a future hearing on alleviating poverty.

    You May Like

    Russian-Backed Offensive in Syria Pushes War to Tipping Point

    As threat to Aleppo and rebel forces grows, US plan to negotiate becomes less and less appealing for Syrian government, says one military analyst

    IS Runs Timber Smuggling Business in Afghanistan, Officials Say

    Government turning blind eye to smuggling, according to tribal leaders; Afghanistan's forest cover dropped by 50 percent in three decades, experts say

    Video White House Seeks $1.8 Billion to Combat Zika

    Obama administration says funding would 'support essential strategies to combat the virus' such as rapidly expanding mosquito control programs, accelerating vaccine research

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Not Again from: Canada
    May 01, 2014 11:10 PM
    The issue of poverty is a global problem, not just unique to the US. All Western nations, and all other nations, have large numbers of poor people; they are in reality economically disadvantaged. In many countries we see people, that have been part of the middle class for decades, and now they are poor, marginalized, and survive on state help, and private donation handouts; they are not part of the positive side of the economic system, they can't participate.
    It is interesting to see the two US Parties argue about mytical and fictional causes to poverty. The chronically poor people, in many cases are not just economically disadvantaged, but in fact have serious health issues relating directly to a disability which is an impediment to work.
    Work/employment is a key patway to reducing, if not eliminating, poverty. Unfortunately, employment is a two part system, like a key and a lock. You can have lots of keys, but it does not mean they will unlock the lock. Or you could have lots of locks, but no key to open them. The key needs to fit and open the lock, for people to open the gate to their own prosperity.
    Almost a trillion was spent propping up large institutions, if half as much is spent on retraining people, the sit/outcome maybe far better for all.
    Currently, in most countries, there are lots of people that do not have the required skills to gain employment; essentially they can't unlock the gate to their prosperity.
    The problem is in not providing/updating skills, to enable the person to be gainfully employed, it is one root cause to poverty. The other aspect, is to ensure that unrestricted trade deficits are not allowed to exist. The current model of globalization, is one significant factor causing un/under-employment=poverty.
    Neither socialists nor capitalists can resolve the issue of poverty, until such time that they address root causes. It is delusional to think that fictional and mythological narratives, will resolve the ever growing problem of poverty.
    No question that all able people should work, and not live from handouts, it must be the end objective; unfortunately to many working people are also very poor; the system is broken by the greed of the few! Handouts, also will not reduce poverty.
    Who has the leadership attributes = to put the people's interests ahead of greed; to implement the required skill upgrades and require people to accept work and not handouts; and lastly to step in and fix the problem unrestricted trade deficits wrt the globalization problem? Unfortunately no one! They rather engage in fiction and mythology, because neither can be resolved.

    by: Issa Barry from: conakry, Guinea
    May 01, 2014 10:47 AM
    I believe that the congressional black caucus is in a better positkon to identify the most efficient approach in fighting poverty since they are from the communities that have the largest number (black & hispanic).Mr Ryan's initiative to give that group an opportunity to come up with a proposal with regard to solving that problem is a wise idea.

    by: Marcuscassius from: Arkansas
    April 30, 2014 8:42 PM
    No! republicans refuse to do their part to get rid of poverty. They think that the rich should have it all, by some divine right. That the rich should have every break, immunity to law, rights of inheritance to protect their wealth. They think they should
    be what we fought to be free of 200 years ago. They want to be royalty over everyone.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenyai
    X
    February 08, 2016 4:30 PM
    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video New Hampshire Voters Are Independent, Mindful of History

    Once every four years, the northeastern state of New Hampshire becomes the center of the U.S. political universe with its first-in-the-nation presidential primary. What's unusual about New Hampshire is how seriously the voters take their role and the responsibility of being among the first to weigh in on the candidates.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Bhutanese Refugees in New Hampshire Closely Watching Primary Election

    They fled their country and lived in refugee camps in neighboring Nepal for decades before being resettled in the northeastern U.S. state of New Hampshire -- now the focus of the U.S. presidential contest. VOA correspondent Aru Pande spoke with members of the Bhutanese community, including new American citizens, about the campaign and the strong anti-immigrant rhetoric of some of the candidates.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video Sanders, Clinton Battle for Young Democratic Vote

    Despite a narrow loss to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in last week's Iowa Democratic caucuses, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders secured more than 80 percent of the vote among those between the ages of 18 and 29. VOA correspondent Aru Pande talks to Democrats in New Hampshire about who they are leaning towards and why in this week's primary.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.