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Huizenga op-ed: There is a Better Way to Address Poverty & Create Opportunity
Recently, Congressman Huizenga wrote an op-ed describing the House Republican plan to improve how the federal government combats poverty. For decades the federal government has implemented dozens of ineffective and sometimes duplicative programs that have failed to lift Americans out of poverty. This new Republican plan focuses on rewarding work, increasing opportunity, and helping all Americans build a more productive life. Below is one facet of the House GOP's "Better Way" plan. If you would like to learn more about a "Better Way," click here.
There is A Better Way to Address Poverty & Create Opportunity
By Congressman Bill Huizenga
What if I told you that every man, woman, and child in 24 U.S. states lived in poverty? Would you call our anti-poverty programs a success? Of course you wouldn’t. However, 46 million Americans do live in poverty – enough to populate half the states in our country.
Since President Lyndon Johnson first declared war on poverty 50 years ago, we made many promises, created countless programs, and spent trillions of dollars, but the percentage of Americans living in poverty has actually gone up. We need to stop measuring the success of anti-poverty programs by how many we have and how much money we spend. Instead, we need to break the cycle of the poverty trap by empowering Americans to earn success. There is a better way.
Last month, my colleagues and I unveiled a specific plan to attack poverty at its roots and help people climb the ladder of opportunity. Our vision rewards work, tailors benefits to people’s needs, and demands results.
The best way to lift people out of poverty is to equip them with a skill set to attain good-paying jobs while also demonstrating the importance and value of hard work. When Congress reformed the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program in 1996 and added work requirements, employment rates for single mothers with children increased, while child poverty declined. Unfortunately, these requirements apply to only one program. Our plan encourages work-capable adults without children to work or prepare for work, provides better access to skills training, and offers new services to those with disabilities so they can build a productive life.
Some Americans cannot afford to work because it would actually make their families worse off. To encourage work, I believe we must address this “welfare cliff.” A recent study showed that a single mother could actually better provide for her family with a job that pays $29,000 while receiving welfare payments than if she had a job that paid $69,000. This is simply unacceptable - If you get a raise, you should not lose money. Our plan will put in place the right incentives to enable all Americans to improve their quality of life.
Finally, we need to test the system and promote the ideas that are actually working. Our plan creates a partnership between the government and private-sector providers that only pays for results. It is past time to shut-down ineffective government programs that continue to fail people in need. There is a better way to help those struggling in West Michigan and across the nation.
Faith, family, and community are cornerstones of life and our approach to addressing poverty must pull from each of these areas to be successful. I encourage you to visit Better.GOP to learn more about the House Republican plan. Together, we can break the cycle of poverty plaguing our nation and create opportunity for millions of Americans not only in our lifetime, but in the future as well.