Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney's 2012 vice presidential candidate and a Republican congressman from Wisconsin, unveiled a new proposal to fight poverty this week. Here are some reviews:
On Thursday, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan surprised liberals with the release of a new antipoverty plan that may include his best idea ever.
In contrast to Ryan’s last four budgets, which proposed huge cuts to federal antipoverty programs, Ryan’s new proposal is deficit-neutral. In fact, although Ryan still wrongly believes that misaligned incentives and not a lack of jobs are the biggest impediment to workers, part of his proposal even has broad appeal.
You don't need to love Representative Paul Ryan's new plan to reform anti-poverty programs to admit that it's an improvement over his old plan that entailed using increased suffering as an inducement to work. You also don't need to love Paul Ryan's new plan to reform anti-poverty programs to acknowledge that he's left (or perhaps gotten himself excommunicated from) the cult of Ayn Rand.
Ryan proposes a pilot program called the “Opportunity Grant,” which offers states the ability to use the funds they currently get for a range of programs to run individually focused programs specifically intended to help needy individuals achieve upward mobility and stay out of poverty long term. (If states want, they can stick with running the existing federal welfare programs, which offer very little flexibility in the way of implementation.)
Ryanism 2.0 appears to be a creed that says the government has an important role in caring for those who genuinely cannot support themselves. More important, it holds that government has an equally important role in helping people on the margin to support themselves.
Another crucial element of Ryan's plan is that we should test results as states try out new programs, replicate what works and ditch what doesn't. In theory, evidenced-based policy is an important idea, and it's one everyone can agree on. But, particularly in the realm of poverty, measuring success is much more complicated than Ryan suggests (his proposal devotes just one page to this topic).