- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2016

House Speaker Paul D. Ryan said Thursday that people who want to combat poverty should look to solutions from localities, and that the federal government should mind “supply lines” — not the front lines.

“We think by applying our principles, we can see better results and actually get at the root causes of poverty,” Mr. Ryan said Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC).

Mr. Ryan has spent the past several years promoting conservative solutions for confronting issues tied to poverty.

“I think we’ve lost the definition of success,” he said Thursday. “We have been defining success as how much money are we spending, how many government programs have we created, how many people are on those programs — that’s success.”

“Why don’t we think about measuring … success in the war on poverty by how many people are we getting out of poverty? How many people are getting on their own two feet?” Mr. Ryan said.

He also said government, in some ways, has been a part of the problem.

“We’re trapping people in poverty by basically paying people not to work,” Mr. Ryan said. “And so we need to make it so that work always pays, and what we’re doing with these programs is we’re isolating the poor — we’re pushing people outside of the workforce and they’re missing out, and we’re missing out on their talents.”

“And so we think good, conservative welfare reform — moving people from welfare to work, going with what works and letting local communities have more power to revive their communities,” he said.

“Not only does the federal government not know what it’s doing, the federal government thinks it knows what it’s doing, then when it doesn’t it actually does more harm than good in many cases,” Mr. Ryan said. “I’m not saying everything is bad, and the federal government can provide resources, but the federal government should mind supply lines, not the front lines, and this is what the left misunderstands so profoundly, I think.”

“There’s this space between ourselves and our government. It’s called civil society,” he said. “It is community. It’s where we live our lives, and what the left always seems to confuse is they think this is wrong, bad inefficient. … There should not be this middle ground: our churches, our civic groups, our communities, our families. That’s where we live our lives.”

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