Rep. Paul Ryan's anti-poverty plan is heartfelt but unworkable [Letter]

July 31, 2014

Thank you for your thoughtful, balanced editorial on Republican Rep. Paul Ryan's recent discussion of poverty ("Ryan's safety net," July 28).

A quick read of Congressman Ryan's proposal show his appreciation of the federal Earned Income Tax Credit as an effective strategy for helping low-income working families rise out of poverty or at least improve their economic security.

However, Mr. Ryan's proposals for SNAP (formerly food stamps) are, as noted by Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, problematic in that they remove protections for poor families who need such food assistance.

A significant component of Mr. Ryan's plans has not attracted the scrutiny they should have. Specifically, his plans require major expansions of state and local bureaucracies to implement his ideas.

Mr. Ryan's "Expanding Opportunity in America" details mandates for federal assistance recipients to have customized life plans, individual case workers, client enforcement and penalty requirements, bonus benefits for successful clients who meet their goals, and lots of new regulations.

I have worked for the federal government, state government in Pennsylvania, and municipal government in California. My career stints as a bureaucrat — a term I use with great respect for public servants — lead me to conclude that the everyday, reality-based world of state and local governments would not be able to start, computerize and manage Mr. Ryan's new Opportunity Grants program.

Rep. Ryan's focus on alleviating poverty certainly seems heartfelt and genuine. Unfortunately, the complex and damaging aspects of his plan far outweigh his good intentions.

Don Mathis, Havre de Grace

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