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Paul Ryan’s Ready to Rip Into Poverty Programs, Be Very Afraid

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Capitol at night

Paul Ryan is at it again. “Paul Ryan remains our big-ideas guy,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma, a member of the House leadership, according to a New York Times editorial bemoaning the Ryan way.

His Catholic upbringing, with all the focus on social justice, fuels his fire. And now he’s going to direct his passion toward curing poverty in this country, welfare “reform” on steroids.

This scares the crap out of me.

With the official poverty rate aiming at 20%, and with the economy in the toilet for at least 50% of Americans, what could go wrong?

Let me be the first to say in this nonpartisan rant that neither party has much to show for any constructive, effective approach to poverty. We’d have to go back to FDR to point to actual drastic steps to alleviating poverty that had any measureable results.

What am I worried about? Here’s a list for starters:

  • Since the 1980s, our nation’s subsidized housing (HUD) budget has been slashed, from $83 billion in 1978 to $45 billion in 2014.

o   Will Mr. Ryan propose bolstering a comprehensive housing solution to address the dire lack of affordable housing, the #1 cause of homelessness, by increasing federal support for affordable housing?

  • Unemployment, especially for women and men with marginal job possibilities, is soaring, and the pattern has been to slash unemployment benefits on both the federal and state level.

o   Will Mr. Ryan create a massive and realistic movement to return people to work, especially those who’ve been ostracized because of their bad credit, felonies, or extended period of unemployment?

  • Health care, an expensive proposition even now, is still out of reach for millions. It is a major cause of bankruptcy, which often leads to homelessness. Oh yeah, it’s hard on people’s health not to have access to medical care, too.

o   Will Mr. Ryan expand efforts to provide health care to all? Affordably?

o   Will Mr. Ryan lead the charge to make sure the millions of babies, toddlers, children, teens, young adults and parents, and single adults, become high priority for housing and whatever services are needed to return them to stability?

o   Will Mr. Ryan guide the splintered Congress in shaping humanitarian policies and practices to restore dignity and opportunity to people from other countries trying to survive in America?

Mr. Ryan, I don’t believe you. The bipartisan dysfunction of Congress does not encourage champions to rise up against your preposterous proposals to “help” the least favorite people in the country, those living in the squalor of poverty.

In the name of all that is holy, I beseech Pope Francis to get involved. Pull your Pope card. Wave it in front of your “son” Paul’s face and let him know the most important people in this country are those who can’t buy electoral power. Remind him that Jesus loved, in fact preferred, those in poverty over the rich bastards who grabbed all the gold and ravaged the lowly.

We are going to need a huge miracle to avoid a total train wreck for our millions of income-challenged sisters and brothers. The only one more powerful than Paul Ryan is Pope Francis. It’s time to light a candle and kneel on broken glass.