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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Srebrenica Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

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.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs