At a recent GOP forum in South Carolina that didn’t generate the kind of media coverage as a GOP debate that includes Donald Trump, the lower-polling candidates talked about a conservative approach to dealing with poverty.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Sen. Tim Scott moderated panels on Saturday that included Jeb Bush, Dr. Ben Carson, Gov. Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Gov. John Kasich. You can watch the panel with Bush, Dr. Carson, and Gov. Christie here.
Sen. Rubio said he hoped lawmakers at the federal level would take all the money spent on “anti-poverty” programs and turn it over to the states. In the video, pro-amnesty protesters interrupted him. One of the reported remarks was, “Rubio does not represent the Hispanic community. He wants to deport our families!”
The candidates want to empower the states to deal with welfare reform and encourage people to work. The GOP also supports raising the Earned Income Tax Credit for low-income workers. From the Wall Street Journal:
“We’ve been fighting a war on poverty for over 50 years now, and I don’t think you conclude anything other than this war is a stalemate,” Mr. [Paul] Ryan said to open the event. “We’ve treated poverty like they’re potholes that need to be filled up and then we move on,” adding that “we now have a safety net that is designed to catch people falling into poverty when what we really need is a safety net that is designed to help get people out of poverty.”
Thus the day reflected the intellectual ferment as conservatives seek alternatives to the Democratic agenda of ever-expanding benefits and what so often becomes permanent dependency on government.
One of the big themes is how to reward work, which is the only sustainable route out of poverty. Jeb Bush promoted the welfare reform plan he rolled out last week that would replace the hodgepodge of current federal programs with “right to rise grants” that would be administered by the states. The grants would have a work requirement and time limits.