Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan on Monday published a teaser of his upcoming budget proposal, focused on the government's existing programs for addressing poverty. In short: government money is being wasted. Proposals for improvement and replacement were not presented.
One of the funnier aspects of American politics recently has been Jonathan Chait of New York magazine pointing out the repeated coverage of Ryan's supposedly quiet tour of American poverty. "Ryan’s rebranding effort — sorry, his heartfelt interest" on the subject of poverty, Chait wrote last year, "is inevitably described as 'quiet.'" So it "might seem odd that Ryan’s determination to keep his love of the poor quiet would nevertheless leak out in the media, over and over again." Chait tracked down one person who'd been leaking details of the tour: Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
But that secret tour served Ryan well in putting together his 200-plus page report on the government's poverty programs. "In visit after visit," he said in an interview with The Washington Post, "I’ve learned that we’ve got to stop measuring success by how much we spend and start measuring success by how much we help." The document walks through program after program that receives federal money for the purposes of addressing poverty, looking at how much the government has spent ($799 billion on 92 programs in 2012) and the effect of the programs on labor force participation. The guiding principle of the document, it seems, is to judge the extent to which federal programs provide a disincentive for finding employment, a key indicator of emerging from poverty — and a key argument in the current debate over Obamacare.