I am glad to see that he is waging one, and I have no doubt that it is genuine. I also have no doubt that the Republican party needs to find its voice regarding this issue. For far too long, Democrats have owned this issue, and in the meantime, there has been little forward progress in the effort to reduce poverty. Indeed, if anything, the situation has worsened for the poor, and there are a great deal more of them. The last time that Republicans had anything to say regarding poverty was when welfare reform passed in 1996. Since then, the only time Republicans get in the news regarding a debate over poverty is when some Republican or other claims that all of the poor are indolent and welfare cheats. To be sure, the work ethic is lacking in some, and there is fraud in the system. But there are a great many people who long for a better life and who are willing to work to get it–if only they might be given half a chance.
It makes no sense to demonize those people. It makes incredible amounts of sense to instead reach out to them and to try to better their lives by finding out more about them, and by working to craft responsible and innovate policies in order to help lift more people out of poverty. I believe that Ryan is doing his level best–in the spirit of Jack Kemp, his onetime mentor–to do just that. And I hope that news about Ryan’s efforts spread. Maybe then, more Republicans will take an active interest in combating poverty.