- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Rep. Paul Ryan, the incoming chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said one of the priorities he intends on pursuing in his post on the powerful committee is “welfare reform 2.0” to help people stuck in poverty improve their situations.

“I do believe this committee has so much jurisdiction in this — it’s the committee in charge of our welfare laws,” Mr. Ryan, Wisconsin Republican, said Tuesday at the annual Wall Street Journal CEO Council gathering. “And so I really believe that it’s time for what I would call welfare reform 2.0.”

Mr. Ryan, the 2012 GOP vice presidential nominee, has made a point of traveling the country recently to visit such poverty-stricken, often urban neighborhoods in hopes of listening to community leaders and figuring out how to reverse some of the trends. He said Tuesday he’s sticking to his timeline of announcing any 2016 plans next year.

“When we reformed welfare in 1996, that was one program,” he said. The last few years, in addition to traveling the country and meeting with just heroic people doing a phenomenal job of fighting poverty — grassroots groups doing a great job — we also looked at all of the federal government programs that are in the poverty-fighting space.”

He said such a comprehensive look is unprecedented.

“The point is it’s a real mixed bag,” he said. “The second point is all of the success in now the 50th anniversary of the war on poverty, with trillions of dollars spent, has been solely measured based upon inputs — how much money are we spending, how many programs are we creating, how many people are on the programs, and we haven’t been measuring it on outcomes.”

“How are we getting people out of poverty? Is it working? Is upward mobility occurring? Are people moving up the income quintiles and the rest?” he continued.

Mr. Ryan said he plans to bring a bill to the floor next week, which he says he’s negotiated with Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, to move the metrics system in government toward measuring the effectiveness of the polices on outcomes and not inputs.

As chairman of the House Budget Committee, Mr. Ryan negotiated a short-term budget agreement last year with Ms. Murray, his Senate counterpart.

“We want to take that, get those metrics, and then translate it into better public policy so that we can focus on reworking our poverty-fighting strategies … in concert with the private sector, with the charitable sector, with [an] eye toward getting people off of welfare into work,” he said.

“And so that, to me, is just — we need an overhaul of our approach, and this is something that I’m going to spend a lot of my time working on, because I think it’s absolutely essential if we want to reignite the American idea, which is the condition of your birth does not determine the outcome of your life in this country,” he continued. “Too many people don’t see it, don’t believe it, and we can fix that.”

• David Sherfinski can be reached at dsherfinski@washingtontimes.com.

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