By: AIF STAFF
This week, AIF President Paul Ryan participated in a roundtable discussion with members of the House Ways & Means Committee about President Biden’s Build Back Better agenda and policies to help families and children overcome the economic challenges associated with COVID-19. In his remarks, Ryan, who previously served as Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, focused on the importance of evidence-based, locally-grown strategies to increase economic opportunities.
To view Ryan’s remarks, click here. Excerpts of Ryan’s remarks, edited slightly for clarity, follow.
“As a point of personal privilege: The best experiences I had were in this committee’s jurisdiction. The fondest memories, and I had a great 10-term career, were made here. I loved it. I’m so grateful for it. It is in this committee where some of the most important work for the country is done and it’s just a wonderful place to be.”
“It’s going to be harder to move the Democratic Party back to where they once were, which is with us on moving people from welfare to work. This is why I think the progressives are going full tilt, trying to get this [reconciliation] plan in place, believing — maybe rightfully so, that once they put this stuff in place, it’s going to be really hard to undo and that means we turn into a European social welfare state with stagnant economic growth, slow upward mobility, and a government more designed for equality of outcome than equality of opportunity.”
“We want people to become the best versions of themselves. We want a society of upward mobility and opportunity and we have better ideas for doing that. The cynical, condescending, arrogant, paternalistic philosophy and vision that the left is displaying with these proposals to make people more dependent upon others in government than upon themselves, particularly when they can become dependent upon themselves and grow and rise is a moral high ground that Republicans have to keep, have to fight for, and have to communicate it as hard as they can.”
“What is the [worst part] among all of these [reconciliation] proposals are these welfare traps and policies that trap people in lives of dependency and complacency and that prevent people from having opportunities to rise. When our businesses are struggling for labor, when we have this tight labor market problem, this is exactly the wrong time put these kinds of policies in place…. My prayer and hope are that some people, even some on the other side of the aisle, realize this is not the way to go.”
“We’re being challenged from within with polarization, with illiberalism, with welfare state progressivism and we’re being challenged from without, namely by China, Russia, and the rest. These are challenges that require solutions which all revolve around making sure that every single person in this country can be the best version of themselves; that the system of economic growth we have is one that is an escalator of upward mobility and not one that creates dependency. And the last final point I’ll make is that if [Democrats] succeed in passing this [reconciliation bill], they will hasten the debt crisis that we all know is coming in this country.”
“The most important point [when fighting poverty]is person-to-person interaction. I spent four or five years running around the country with my friend Bob Woodson, touring urban communities, including in many of your districts, and looking for common themes of success. In every instance, the common theme of success and the successful way of battling poverty is person to person, soul to soul.
“This is what I do now at my Foundation and at Notre Dame. At Notre Dame, we run 70 randomized control trials a year around the country studying what works and what doesn’t work based off of the Evidence Act that we passed at the very end of 2018. So, we now have the evidence and the data that shows improvements.
“And to the point Robert just made, the way to get people out of poverty is to interact with them individually and create that human contact…. You need incentive-based and work-based aid but then you’ve got to have a person that works with a poor person or family to help them build. We call it “case management,” and one of the most successful programs is the Padua Project at Catholic Charities Fort Worth. We’ve run these randomized control trials on people that go into it and people that don’t go into it and we see an enormous difference in terms of success when you tie the aid to work and when you pair a “case manager” with the poor family to help them build their own plan and address what makes them vulnerable using carrots and sticks….
“It is a very lonely journey for a person to try to get themselves out of poverty but if you have people that know how to help them get out and can help them build a plan to get themselves out of poverty, the data is here to show that it works….
“Let’s see the progress that has been made. [Let’s see the] mountains of evidence that have been gathered on the best ways to help people get themselves out of poverty — which is individuals connecting with each other. [Let’s use] best practices, proven advocates, and practice strategies that actually help them get themselves out of poverty….
“We’re on the cusp of really breaking through the stalemate of the War on Poverty. I really think we were heading in the right direction where we were going to see reductions in poverty and how people get out of poverty. If this [reconciliation bill] passes, you’re going to wipe out so much of those gains, and that’s what really, really troubles me.”