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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs