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Byrne Says there is A Better Way to Fight Poverty

By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

Wednesday, June 8, US Representative Bradley Byrne (R-Montrose) wrote an opinion piece in “The Hill” outlining his views about combating poverty by encouraging a work ethic.

Congressman Bradley Byrne wrote, “Far too often when someone proposes strategies to combat poverty, they get labeled as cold-heartened or cruel. But that could not be further from the truth. Reforming our welfare programs and combatting poverty is actually about lifting people up and helping our friends and neighbors.”

Byrne went on to argue that continuing the Great Society programs which he said were failures. Byrne wrote, “In 1966, the poverty rate was 14.7 percent. In 2014, after spending billions of dollars a year on a myriad of poverty programs, the poverty rate sat at 14.8 percent. We keep throwing more and more money at the problem but get the same results.”

Rep. Byrne wrote, “For far too long we have treated poverty as a chronic disease that cannot be cured. We focus on ways to help people cope with poverty instead of guiding them toward a better life. In many ways, our country’s welfare programs disincentivize work and actually punish Americans who find work by immediately halting many of their benefits.”

Byrne said that he joined House Speaker Paul Ryan and some of my House colleagues in crafting a “Better Way” agenda that directly addresses poverty in the United States. Byrne said, “This agenda attempts to get at the heart of what causes poverty and offers real policy solutions to make a difference.”

Byrne, who once headed Alabama’s Two Year College System, said that his focus during the discussion was on education and helping Americans obtain the skills they need to obtain high-paying jobs they want. Byrne called education the great equalizer said it is one of the best tools we have to fight poverty.

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Rep. Byrne wrote, “There is probably no better example of how powerful job training programs are than looking at what we accomplished in our prison system. These are difficult students who face a range of challenges, but 100 percent of the inmates who completed our training program got a job. Even more, the recidivism rate was less than 3 percent. Skills training makes all the difference.”

Byrne said that giving people the tools they need to live the lives they want to live instead of just giving them another government program is at the heart of the Republican plan.

US Representative Martha Roby said, “When it comes to restoring the promise of opportunity in America, there’s a ‪#‎BetterWay than repeating mistakes we’ve made for decades. House Republicans are talking about ideas and coming to the conversation with what we are for, not just what we are against. That’s important toward building a winning agenda and returning to Constitutional order in a post-Obama America.”

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) said that the Republican plan would take on the status quo by: rewarding work; improve skills and schools so people can earn more money; combine the more than 80 federal welfare programs; and demand results.

Speaker Ryan said, “We would allow small businesses to band together and provide 401(k)s to their employees. And we would rein in Dodd-Frank regulations to increase the amount of community banks and small-dollar lending.”

Speaker Ryan said, “Right now, we have a safety net that catches people falling into poverty. We think a better way is creating a safety net that lifts people out of poverty. So instead of isolating the poor in a maze of bureaucracy and red tape, we can elevate them — bring them back into our communities so they can reach their full potential. That will create opportunity for all of us.”

Rep. Bradley Byrne is a Republican who represents Alabama’s First Congressional District in the US House of Representatives.

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Brandon Moseley is a former reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter.

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