On Monday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House Budget Committee Chair, released a report that criticized the failures of the federal war on poverty in what was viewed as preview of the welfare reform that will be in the House GOP budget.
The report emphasizes that the breakdown of the family unit has been the most important determinant of whether one will be in poverty.
The report, titled, “The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later,” focuses on eight specific areas that need reform: cash aid; education and job training; energy; food aid; health care; housing; social services; and veterans affairs.
It notes that though poverty persists because of “changes in familystructure, changes in labor-market opportunities, and changes in broader demographics,” federal policies since the President Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty” have also contributed.
“Congress has taken a haphazard approach to this problem; it has expanded programs andcreated new ones with little regard to how these changes fit into the larger effort,” the report says. “Rather thanprovide a roadmap out of poverty, Washington has created a complex web of programs thatare often difficult to navigate.”
The report also notes that “perhaps the single most important determinant of poverty is family structure,” and mentions that government statistics have found that “single women head less than 20 percent of all households; but they head 34 percent of all poor households.” Another study discovered that “if a person works full time, gets a high-school education, and waits until he or she is married to have children, the chances of being poor are just 2 percent.”
“Poverty is most concentrated among broken families. For all families, the poverty rate was 13.1 percent,” the report notes. “But 34.2 percent of families headed by a single female were considered below poverty, and 22.8 percent of households composed of unrelated individuals were considered to be in poverty.”
Yet programs aimed to help those in poverty are in disarray, and that has “created what’s known as the poverty trap.” Because there hardly any coordination among the many anti-poverty programs the federal government administers and since the programs are also means-tested, the report found that poor families in America “face very high implicit marginal tax rates.”
That means the federal government’s anti-poverty agenda, including Obamacare, “effectively discourages them from making more money.”
The report found that since 1965, “women have entered the work force in large numbers” while the “male labor-force participation has fallen dramatically,” from 80 percent in 1965 to below 70 percent today.
Ryan released his report on Monday, the day before President Obama is set to send his budget to Congress.