Congressional Republicans are beginning a high-profile push to overhaul “big government” programs for the poor that fail to offer struggling Americans a way out of poverty, two reports said Wednesday.
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said in a speech, “We have 4 million Americans who have been out of work for six months or more. We have a staggering 49 million Americans living below the poverty line, and over twice that number — over 100 million people — who get some form of food aid from the federal government.”
“The president has defined poverty and income inequality as the defining issue of our time, and his solution is to raise taxes on wealthy Americans and raise the minimum wage to $10.10” an hour, Rubio told The Times. “That’s not a solution; $10.10 is not the American dream. I want them making $50.”
“This administration has no real focus on job creation,”said Michigan Republican Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. “It really is focused on how long checks are being received.”
The Times reported that Republican lawmakers will be proposing more market-based solutions to the issue in the coming weeks, including work requirements to safety-net programs; streamlining federal offices; improving training and education initiatives, and offering tax breaks to the needy.
Sen. Mike Lee of Utah may introduce legislation to give states more control of Medicaid funds — and possibly even Head Start programs, The Times reported. He also plans to introduce a bill next month to streamline existing antipoverty programs, he told The Times.
“There’s . . . a recognition among a lot of Republicans that we have not done a good job messaging conservatism, messaging the fact that we are conservatives not in spite of our concern for the poor but because of it,” Lee told The Times.
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