WASHINGTON — U.S. Reps. James McGovern and Rosa DeLauro are raising serious doubts about the sincerity of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s commitment to ending poverty in the United States saying his recently formed task force is “a sham.”
At a press conference outside the U.S. Capitol Wednesday, the two Democrats said the all-Republican task force is made up of members who have consistently supported deep cuts to social welfare programs including food stamps, low-income housing and Medicaid.
“I am skeptical and quite frankly very wary that this is yet just another attempt to cut holes in the social safety net,” said McGovern, D-Worcester. “Every single member of their taskforce has supported Republican budgets that block grant SNAP, cut funding for Pell Grants, low-income housing, and many other crucial anti-poverty programs.”
DeLauro, D-Conn., said that Republicans have used misleading statistics to claim that trillions of dollars have been spent over the last few decades without lowering poverty. But, what they don’t say is that the programs advocated by Republicans would ultimately increase poverty.
“Speaker Ryan’s new poverty taskforce is a sham,” she said. “It is made up of only Republicans with voting records that cut funding to the very social safety net programs that combat poverty.”
Ryan last month announced the formation of the Task Force on Poverty, Opportunity, and Upward Mobility, made up of the chairman of the House committees on agriculture, budget, education, financial services and ways and means. Their goals include: reducing poverty by moving people from welfare to work; removing government-imposed barriers to success; improving job-training programs, fighting waste, fraud and abuse in social safety net programs and holding them accountable for success.
They are hoping to develop a specific plan to achieve those goals by the spring.
McGovern hosted Wednesday’s press conference that also included House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer, D-Md., along with other lawmakers and anti-poverty activists who also wary of what Republicans are planning.
McGovern was especially vocal in condemning Republicans for their efforts to cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. The House GOP had pushed for a $40 billion reduction to a program that he said provides on average $1.40 per person per meal. He also complained that debates on the issue wind up with Republicans attacking the poor.
“They are engaged in a cynical game of blaming the poor people for all the problems this country faces. Saying poor people are lazy, gaming the system, that they use public assistance to buy drugs. Republicans rarely miss an opportunity to demonize those who struggle every day in poverty,” McGovern said.
McGovern said that House Democrats are committed to a comprehensive plan to end hunger and that a plan will be forthcoming.
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