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Paul Ryan Says ‘Lucrative’ Welfare Benefits Created ‘Poverty Trap’ In Baltimore

If you were wondering how long it would take before some Scrooge McDuck member of the Republican Party would step forward and blame what happened in Baltimore on food stamps, you can stop wondering because Paul Ryan has now decided to claim that dubious distinction.

Ryan, appearing on the CBS Sunday news show “Face the Nation,” said that the residents of poor communities such as Baltimore are stuck in what he called a “poverty trap” because the welfare benefits they receive are a disincentive to them finding jobs. Ryan went on to elaborate, adding:

“After a 50 year war on poverty and trillions of dollars spent, we still have the same poverty rates. This isn’t a Republican-Democrat thing. We as a country need to say, that’s not good enough. We’re not getting the results we need.”

When I read that, one phrase immediately came to mind: Could this penny-pinching jerkweed be any more insensitive to the situation in Baltimore? Did welfare benefits cause six cops to allegedly murder Freddie Gray? How exactly does welfare lead to a police officer in South Carolina shooting a man in the back?

Perhaps, “Face the Nation” host Bob Schieffer posited, “the federal government needs to make more money available.” Ryan wasn’t wild about that idea, saying:

“It’s really not a more money thing. Spend the money we have more effectively. I think we need to do another round of welfare reform — not to save money, but to save lives. And so it’s not a function of pumping more money into the same failed system because we’ll just get the same failed result. It’s rethinking how we actually attack the root causes of poverty. All we do these days effectively is treat the symptoms of poverty.”

That, or we could always take some of the trillions we spend on fighter jets, tanks, bombs, and nuclear weapons to provide education, job training, and job placement for every person in the country. We could also, as President Obama has suggested, rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. That would create millions of new jobs.

But no, Ryan said his “idea” was this:

“I would consolidate many of our federal poverty programs into flexible programs that go to our states to customize a welfare benefit for person’s particular need.”

If you need a translation of that sentence, allow me to provide one: Ryan is saying we need to let states  cut benefits for those most in need. In other words, if you cut people’s food stamps, they have less money to spend on nutrition and they’ll be too malnourished to cause any trouble.

Yeah, that’s the solution, Congressman. But I have a better one: Let’s cut your salary back to minimum wage and see how you pay the bills.

Watch Paul Ryan On “Face the Nation”

This article was originally published by the same author at LiberalAmerica.org.

By Andrew Bradford

Proud progressive journalist and political adviser living behind enemy lines in Red America.

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