On Poverty, The Ryan Budget’s Rhetoric Doesn’t Match Reality

Our guest blogger is Desmond Brown, a consultant for the Half in Ten campaign at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

Last week, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his fiscal 2012 budget. While Ryan couches his proposal in nice language, his plan would erode the health care safety net for seniors and low-income Americans, eliminate employment and training programs for millions of workers, shrink access to higher education for low-income students, and enforce harsh restrictions on nutrition assistance for families struggling to find employment during this fragile economic recovery.

His plan would do more to push fragile families into poverty than promote the type of prosperity that it rhetorically claims. The Wonk Room has assembled this chart showing where Ryan’s rhetoric doesn’t match his budget’s reality:

Ryan’s RhetoricReality”Protecting Assistance for Those in Need”The plan block grants and places time limits on the nation’s most effective nutrition safety net, SNAP, which was extremely effective in meeting the nutrition needs of families hard hit by unemployment during the recent recession. $127 billion in SNAP funding would be cut over ten years.”Preparing the Workforce for a 21st Century Economy”The plan proposes cuts to Pell grants, even though they are one of the most effective programs to help low-income students gain a foothold on the middle class through higher education.


The plan would “consolidate” job-training programs, code for cutting job training opportunities, as was illustrated in House Republicans’ fiscal 2011 proposal to eliminate funding for Workforce Investment Act (WIA) services for program year 2011.

“Repairing a Broken Medicaid System”The plan block grants the program, which will result in reduced services for the most vulnerable families as capped federal resources would not respond to meet growing health care demands in states during economic downturns.”Saving Medicare”The plan creates a new voucher system that will dramatically increase the cost of health care services for seniors.”State Flexibility to Develop Programs”The plan would simply shift more federal responsibility to economically challenged states. For states with high rates of poverty and deficits, this plan would limit their ability to leverage federal resources to provide necessary services to assist people in need.

Ryan’s plan will not lead to prosperity. The plan would further expand the gap between wealthy Americans and those trying to get a foothold on the middle class. At a time when our country should be focusing on investments for jobs in new innovative industries, strengthening our health care system, and rebuilding our infrastructure, the plan attacks all of these progressive strategies by scaling back access to higher education, workforce training, and demolishing the nation’s health care safety net.