Panel Discussion with Congressman Paul Ryan

Panel Discussion with Congressman Paul Ryan

I, alongside the other two Marzulla Law interns, attended a panel discussion hosted by the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research. The panelists consisted of representatives from the Heritage Foundation, the Brookings Institution, and the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. United States Congressman and past Vice-Presidential Nominee, Paul Ryan, was also a panelist and opened the discussion with remarks about reducing poverty in America.


Summer interns at Marzulla Law (from left to right):Alexandra He, myself, and Courtney Johnson


After traveling all over the country for the past year and gaining a better understanding of the problems faced by Americans in poverty, Ryan is now beginning the conversation about how to put an end to the poverty epidemic in America. He would like to see the creation of a pilot program called the Opportunity Grant. This would be a federal grant given to states to allocate in place of the current welfare programs in place. He stressed that it would be accompanied by particular objectives and a neutral third-party to measure the results. If successful and fully implemented, the Opportunity Grant would consolidate up to eleven federal welfare programs with a program tasked with meeting the needs of the less-fortunate on a case by case basis. The advantage, he claims, is that by allowing more discretion at the state and case-worker level the Opportunity Grant could be more targeted to the specific community and individuals receiving such aid.


The discussion panel (from left to right): Robert Doar, Ron Haskins, Stuart Butler, Bob Woodson, and Paul Ryan


Congressman Ryan suggested that he believed this type of overhaul of our currently dysfunctional welfare programs could receive bipartisan support. When or if this program goes before Congress for a vote, one challenge I believe it will face is funding. Ryan suggested that the government should look into cutting subsidies to energy corporations to raise the needed funds. He also mentioned that some similar ideas have been proposed by the President but with very different funding methods. Ryan said that Obama has been inclined to increase taxes to pay for social programs. This seems to be a common theme in current politics—although everyone wants the same result, no one can find a means in which to get there that will have the majority of acceptance from Congress. It will be very disappointing if party politics overshadow the needed reform of American welfare programs. If Ryan can overcome this and pass sweeping reform, I would not be surprised to see his name on the ballot again in the future.


Paul Ryan giving remarks

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