During Saturday’s GOP Weekly Address, Representative Bradley Byrne (R-AL) said, “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 our people living in poverty has hardly changed.”
Transcript as Follows:
“Hi, my name is Bradley Byrne, and I have the honor of representing the first district of Alabama in the United States House of Representatives.
This summer, my colleagues and I have been talking with our constituents all over the country about our proposed agenda for 2017—what we’re calling A Better Way. I’ve decided to focus on the first plank of our agenda: poverty. Over the past few months, I have been on a tour of my district—talking not only with the people helping those in need, but also many of those trapped in poverty.
Some are struggling with addiction. Some have no homes. Some have jobs that simply don’t pay enough. They come from all kinds of backgrounds. And none of them want to stay in poverty. On this Labor Day weekend, we should recognize that every person struggling wants to get a job and make enough money to live a good life.
I should also say that some of the best work with the poor that I have seen has been by private non-profit organizations. I’m speaking to you today from one of those groups, Feeding the Gulf Coast. They have a real concern for the people they help here. 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 sure 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.
The problem is, the many federal programs that are supposed to help people in need are leaving far too many of them in poverty. 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 our people living in poverty has hardly changed.
There is a better way.
Let’s start with a simple principle: Everyone in America deserves a real opportunity to lift themselves out of poverty—once and for all. 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.
We propose five simple steps to do just that.
First, reward work. If you are capable, we will expect you to work or prepare for work in exchange for benefits.
Second, tailor those benefits to people’s needs. If we allow states to customize benefits, then they’ll be able to work with groups like Feeding the Gulf Coast and get people the help they need.
Third, improve education and job training.
Fourth, help people plan and save for the future.
And fifth, demand results. Keep track of what we’re doing, so that we can see which ideas actually work.
The way I see it, if we succeed here, we get a ‘three-fer’. First, we lift people out of poverty. Second, the economy will grow as more of us start working. And finally, as people leave the welfare rolls, we will spend less taxpayer money.
Yes, it’s time for a better way. A better way for poor children. A better way for struggling adults. And, a better way for America.
May God bless you this Labor Day weekend and may God bless the United States of America.”
Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett