Center for American Progress Action

RELEASE: Ryan’s Empty Rhetoric and the Real Impact of His Policies on Families Living in Poverty
Press Release

RELEASE: Ryan’s Empty Rhetoric and the Real Impact of His Policies on Families Living in Poverty

Read the full column “9 Ways Rep. Ryan’s Empty Rhetoric Masks the Reality of His Policy Proposals

Washington, D.C. — The Center for American Progress Action Fund responded today to Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) speech on upward mobility and the economy with a column that outlines the ways Rep. Ryan used empty rhetoric to mask the real impact his policies would have on the more than 46 million Americans living in poverty.

Instead of offering real solutions to lift Americans out of poverty and create an economy that works for all, Rep. Ryan stuck to conservative rhetoric that paints safety net programs as the problem rather than as the essential support for struggling families that fall on hard times. Rep. Ryan’s reliance on rhetoric served to veil the policy proposals he supports, which would devastate families and children living in poverty.

As telling as what Rep. Ryan said is what he didn’t say. Though 10.5 million Americans are working poor—meaning that they spent at least half the year in the labor force but their incomes were still below the poverty line—he provided no policy prescriptions for improving job quality such as increasing the minimum wage, continuing tax credits for working families, or providing paid sick days so that parents don’t have to worry about losing their job when their child gets sick.

On everything from jobs, the safety net, equal opportunity, and the federal debt, the stark contrast between Rep. Ryan’s empty rhetoric and the realities his policies would create for vulnerable families is clear:

Jobs

  • Empty rhetoric: “But above all else is the pressing need for jobs. … [Gov. Romney] has set a clear goal: 12 million new jobs over the next four years.”  
  • Reality: Experts debunk this claim. Analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund reveals that the Romney economic plan would actually result in lost jobs or, at best, only add a fraction of the jobs created under President Barack Obama’s current economic policies.

The safety net

  • Empty rhetoric: “Where government is entrusted with providing a safety net, Mitt Romney and I have our own vision for how to keep it strong.”
  • Reality: Rep. Ryan’s budget would devastate the safety net by making deep cuts and converting essential programs into block grants. His Medicaid cuts would cause 31 million Americans to lose access to health insurance over the next 10 years. And his budget would kick 8 million to 10 million people off of nutrition assistance.

Equal opportunity

  • Empty rhetoric: “We owe every child a chance to succeed.”
  • Reality: The very services and supports that kids and families struggling with poverty need to succeed would face drastic cuts under Rep. Ryan’s own budget. Under his plan 191,000 kids would lose access to early education, 22 million kids could lose or see reduced nutrition assistance, and child care would be cut for 4 million children.

The federal debt

  • Empty rhetoric: “Debt on this scale is destructive in so many ways, and one of them is that it crowds out civil society by drawing resources away from private giving.”                 
  • Reality: Private charities cannot alone meet the needs facing America’s poor. Should cuts to supplemental nutrition assistance in the Ryan budget take effect, churches across America would need to come up with $50,000 each to make up the difference.

Read the full column “9 Ways Rep. Ryan’s Empty Rhetoric Masks the Reality of His Policy Proposals

To speak to CAP Action experts, please contact Madeline Meth at mmeth@americanprogressaction.org.

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