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Business Review Board / March 30, 2016

Conservatives’ Empowering Take on Poverty

Liberty raises all boats.

Often when the Right talks about poverty and the government’s welfare programs, most of the concern centers on government waste. Ever heard the term “welfare queens”? Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan apologized for previously using the terms “makers” and “takers” about Americans who work versus those on welfare. He said the labels were not exactly accurate, as there are Americans who want to work, but the system cripples them. Commentator Jason Russell pointed out welfare should be temporary in an ideal world. People fall on hard times, collect unemployment, get back on their feet, and they stop taking welfare. Part of the problem, though, is the “benefits cliff” which removes all welfare when the American starts to earn money, no matter how small it is. That creates a risk, an obstacle someone on welfare has to jump before they land on their feet.

“There’s no shortage of ideas out there,” wrote Russell, “but one concept runs through them: Encourage welfare recipients to work. Welfare programs need to be a ladder that helps able-bodied adults climb back to independence, not a hammock that they live on forever.” Liberty raises all boats. It’s a message of empowerment that applies to the quintessential conservative to the person struggling to make it on his or her own. Unfortunately, some government programs work against them.

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