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Republican Rep. Paul Ryan is pitching a new proposal to slash poverty in America, saying that the government must “repair the safety net” and give states more flexibility to aid residents in need. “We need to stop listening to the loudest voices in the room and start listening to the smartest voices in the room,” Ryan said in remarks at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington D.C.
Ryan, known as the Republican Party’s budget guru and a former vice presidential nominee, argued that disparate federal aid programs should be consolidated into “Opportunity Grants” to states, which would have the freedom to experiment with more flexible programs administered by certified providers like non-profit or community groups. No state would be required to participate in the program, which Ryan says would be budget neutral. The Wisconsin lawmaker and possible 2016 presidential hopeful, laid out the plan in a USA Today op-ed Thursday.
Ryan, whose previous budget plans have been excoriated by Democrats in national ad campaigns as heartless slashes to crucial safety net programs, tried to strike a compassionate tone in his remarks Thursday, saying that he’s visited poor communities during the last year seeking solutions. “When I went to Milwaukee or Denver or Indianapolis, nobody asked me what party I belonged to,” he said. “They welcomed anybody who was willing to listen and learn. That should be our approach in Washington.”