By Mark Hensch
Rep. Bradley Byrne (R-Ala.) says the federal government’s myriad of assistance programs are not helping Americans escape poverty.
“The problem is, the many federal programs that are supposed to help people in need are leaving far too many of them in poverty,” he said Saturday in the GOP’s weekly address.
“We’ve spent trillions of dollars over the last 50 years on the so-called ‘War on Poverty’ – $800 billion this year alone. And yet during that time the percentage of people living in poverty has hardly changed.”
Byrne praised Speaker Paul Ryan’s “A Better Way” agenda for combating poverty.
“Let’s start with a simple principle: Everyone in America deserves a real opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty – once and for all,” he said.
“To do that, we need to combine the present jumble of programs into just a few that can meet people’s needs. These programs should make sure every adult who can work has the education and skills to find a good-paying job in the 21st century economy.”
Byrne said Ryan’s plan contains five steps, citing rewarding work with benefits as the agenda’s top objective.
The Alabama lawmaker said tailoring benefits for people’s needs, improving education and job training and helping voters plan and save for their futures are also key.
Byrne added the federal government could better track its results and learn from the successes of private non-profit organizations.
“I should also say some of the best work with the poor I have seen has been by private non-profit organizations,” he said, citing a group called Feeding the Gulf Coast as an example.
“They have a real concern for the people they help here,” Byrne added of the organization. “They treat those in need as human beings with real worth and openly prove to people that they are loved.
“It’s clear to me that one thing government can’t do is love someone – only another person can do that. But the government can learn from these groups what really works and make sure what the government does actually supports their efforts.”
Feeding the Gulf Coast provides the impoverished in Alabama, Florida and Mississippi with food supplies, according to the group’s website.