Congressman Ryan proposes overhaul of federal poverty programs - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Congressman Ryan proposes overhaul of federal poverty programs

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WKOW) -- Speaking to a crowd at the American Enterprise Institute Thursday morning, Rep. Paul Ryan (WI-1) laid out an ambitious plan for improving the federal government's approach to battling poverty.

Rep. Ryan said a year-long tour of impoverished areas across the country allowed him to witness several new approaches to solving the problems facing those communities.  That led him to pitch the idea of an Opportunity Grant pilot program.  It would merge 11 current federal anti-poverty programs, such as food stamps, cash welfare and housing subsidies into a single program.

The Janesville congressman said the program would impose work requirements on recipients and require states to set up at least two service providers. But state enrollment in the program would be voluntary.

"The idea would be, let states try different ways of providing aid and then test the results," said Rep. Ryan.  "In short, more flexibility in exchange for more accountability."

Rep. Ryan hopes the plan will encourage partnerships between the federal government and locally-based nonprofits that may better know the needs of their communities.

"My thinking is, listen to the boots on the ground.  Listen to the local leaders who are actually changing the status quo, who are actually succeeding," said Ryan.

After being the Republican vice-presidential nominee in 2012, many experts believe Rep. Ryan is setting himself up for a presidential run in 2016.
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