Paul Ryan's Poverty PlanOn July 24, 2014, House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan released Expanding Opportunity in America, his plan to reduce poverty in America.

Child poverty in the U.S. is at a 20-year high, with 16 million or 21.8 percent of children living below the poverty line. Though the poverty rate for all age groups has gone up in recent years, the rate of children living in poverty is significantly higher than for other groups in our society.

While we appreciate Chairman Ryan’s efforts in addressing the significant and important issue of poverty, much of this plan fails to address the unique problem of child poverty and in fact, many of his proposals would most likely increase the number of children living in poverty by weakening or eliminating many programs that have proved effective at reducing child poverty and improving outcomes for children.

The proposals that cause us the biggest concerns are:

  1. The creation of an Opportunity Grant, which would consolidate 11 safety net programs into a single grant to states to pilot strategies for service delivery and case management. By consolidating programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and rental assistance programs into a single grant, it would weaken their effectiveness at being responsive to changing needs of communities as well as make them vulnerable to later cuts by making it easier to do one, across-the-board cut that could slash millions of dollars of spending
  2. The elimination of the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which makes fresh produce available to 3 million school children in low-income communities. Eliminating this program would be harmful to the health and wellbeing of low-income children and would eliminate a program that successfully exposes children to healthy eating and increases their intake of fruits and vegetables.
  3. The restriction of immigrant families’ access to the refundable portion of the CTC by requiring the use of a Social Security Number (SSN).
  4. The block granting of Head Start
  5. Significant changes to the federal role in public education
  6. The consolidation of various Higher Education Programs
  7. The capping of Federal Loans to Graduate Students and Parents

Past First Focus analysis on Chairman Ryan’s budget and policy proposals: 
House Budget Committee Report Understates Effect of Safety Net for Children
Those Pesky Facts in the War on Poverty
Medicaid Block Grants: A Bad Idea that Won’t Go Away