The Shriver Report: Right on the problem of poverty, but wrong on solutions

Shriver ReportToday, millions of Americans live near or below the poverty line. That’s the focus of The Shriver Report’s latest edition, named “A Woman’s Nation Pushes Back from the Brink,” which urges more government intervention to help low-income families. But that’s not the answer.

There’s no denying it: Government programs and regulations can give needy families a boost, pushing them just above the federal poverty line, but there — on the brink — the government-centric approach leaves them trapped. Government can treat the symptoms of poverty, but it cannot address the underlying issue: a lack of opportunity for self-advancement. Expanding opportunities, or social mobility, should be the focus of anti-poverty policies.

Many factors contribute to stagnant social mobility, some economic and some social. Wage regulations, taxes, high education and health care costs, and skills gaps restrict employment opportunities and make saving and wealth accumulation hard. But the deterioration of the family also contributes. Conservatives have policy proposals to address all of these factors.

The Shriver Report, a compilation of essays by left-leaning women, doubles down on the outcry for a “living wage,” or an increased minimum wage. Sadly, raising the mandated minimum wage would have adverse effects, reducing the number of entry-level jobs and spurring on price inflation. If the minimum wage is artificially raised higher and higher, these stepping-stone jobs will turn from launching pads to flypaper.

A better way to increase the take-home pay of low-wage workers would be to reduce their tax burden, by lowering income and payroll taxes. This not only benefits families through immediate tax relief, but it would also spur economic growth, job creation and real wage growth.

Conservatives in the House have passed dozens of job creation bills that the Senate will not take up. Among them is the SKILLS Act, which would reform federal jobs training programs for the unemployed. The philosophy behind this approach recognizes that skills — not checks in the mail — help job seekers find placement. Furthermore, this Act would reduce the size of government by eliminating 35 distinct jobs training programs and replacing them with one.

Bloated government itself is often the enemy of self-advancement. By offering too many subsidies to too many people, we expand an inefficient welfare state that loses its intended focus on the poorest of the poor. The unchecked growth of these programs also comes with a cost, not just to taxpayers and corporations, but to job seekers as increased taxation and debt take their toll on the economy, and further reduce opportunities. As conservatives have suggested, the reform of anti-poverty programs is vital to make them more efficient and more targeted.

While the Shiver Report purports to offer solutions for families ‘on the brink,’ it ignores two areas that are critical for these families: educational freedom and health care freedom. Consider ‘freedom’ a code word in this case for ‘competition.’ When consumers (students, parents, patients, etc.) are free to choose among a variety of schools, universities, health care providers or insurance plans, prices for these vital services are kept low. This benefits Americans of all income levels, but especially the poor, who struggle to access quality education and health care in today’s over-regulated and costly systems.

Furthermore, conservatives are realistic about the relationship between strong families and economic stability. Two are better than one. This is true when it comes to raising children, earning income, sharing living expenses, or stabilizing life when, inevitably, bad things happen. While the Shriver Report admits that strong marriages are key to reducing poverty, it offers little in the way of a solution (more contraception, that’s the ticket!). Conservatives want to reform the tax code and entitlements so that married families no longer face penalties for staying whole.

Poverty is much more complex than a simple lack of resources. It is a lack of opportunity, fueled by institutional barriers. With this understanding, most Americans support a limited role for government in meeting the dire needs of people in desperate situations, but recognize that only free enterprise and equal opportunity can actually lift people out of poverty.

The Shriver Report identifies many serious problems, but sadly offers tired, misguided solutions. A discussion of ‘pushing back from the brink’ of poverty should have included conservative ideas that attack barriers to self-advancement and focus on expanding opportunities and mobility.

Comments

Polititainment

Celebs gin up youth votes for midterms
THE HILL – With young voters more apathetic about voting and government than ever, several organizations are trying to woo the “selfie generation” to the polls this fall. “About half of those who vote in presidential elections do not vote in midterms,” explained Andy Bernstein, executive director of HeadCount, a non-partisan organization that partners with musicians […]
Maher to Cheney: light yourself on fire

As Hunter S. Thompson despised Richard Nixon with every drug-influenced fiber of his being, so Bill Maher carries on the torch for media provocateurs.

Colbert announces plan to defeat ISIS
President Barack Obama might not have a strategy for defeating ISIS in Syria, but never fear,  comedian Stephen Colbert has him covered. Colbert announced a unique plan Thursday night that involves raising Ronald Reagan from the grave, a captive radio audience and Monty Python-esque horse sound effects. “Remember in 1938 the radio broadcast of ‘War […]
Brand: ISIS better than conservatives
Actor Russell Brand took to Youtube Wednesday to compare terrorist group ISIS to conservatives, eventually coming to the conclusion that conservatives in power were worse than ISIS. Brand was recording yet another video aimed at attacking Fox News when he made the statements about ISIS. He was responding to Fox host Greg Gutfeld’s comments about Brand’s […]
Biden congratulates 'Veep' on Emmy win
From one Vice President to another… Vice President Joe Biden took to Twitter Tuesday to congratulate actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus on her Emmy win. Louis-Dreyfus snagged her third consecutive Outstanding Actress in a Comedy series win Monday for her portrayal of a fictional vice president on HBO’s “Veep.” Last year, the VP picked up the phone […]

White House

White House scrambles to control the fallout from Obama’s ‘We don’t have a strategy yet’ comment
It’s hard to imagine that there was any other reaction than full panic from White House staffers after President Obama uttered a fateful gaffe Thursday afternoon, “We don’t have a strategy yet.” The line quickly exploded on Twitter and on television — though not quite as much as the president’s tan suit — as it […]
GOP: ‘He’s not a king’
THE HILL – Whether lamenting the so-called vacationer-in-chief’s swing of a golf club or criticizing his handling of the healthcare rollout, Republicans are getting in the habit of comparing President Obama to a monarch. “It’s one thing after another. You know he says he has no choice but to act. He says he has a pen […]
Obama’s Democratic fundraising just might ruin Labor Day weekend for the rest of us

Barely having returned from a 15-day vacation on Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts, Obama will spend is Labor Day weekend traveling to support his Democratic friends. The problem is, this means that Americans planning to take seaplanes to East Hampton, Montauk, Martha's Vineyard or Nantucket won't be able to travel themselves.

White House flirt Joe Biden turns on the charm for 108-year-old veteran Lucy Coffey

Joe Biden continues to brand himself the White House flirt. In a recently released video of Biden's July 25 meeting with Lucy Coffee, the vice president kisses the 108-year-old war veteran on the cheek and hand and tells her, "I'm the guy that loves you."

Congress

Cruz highlights issues for 2014, 2016 elections
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) elicited huge cheers from the audience at the Americans For Prosperity’s “Defending the American Dream Summit” Saturday when he vowed Republicans would take back control of the U.S. Senate and “retire” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. “I’m convinced we’re going to win in 2014 and 2016 is going to be even better,” […]
IRS says Lerner's Blackberry 'destroyed'

A senior IRS lawyer has said in a sworn declaration that Lois Lerner's BlackBerry was intentionally destroyed after Congress had begun to investigate her involvement in IRS targeting of conservative groups.

Youth impact reason enough to pass jobs bills
The U.S. House Committee on Ways and Means is in the midst of releasing 40 reasons over the course of 40 days that the Senate should take up the 40 jobs bills the House has already passed. While most of their reasons have focused on general unemployment and economic growth statistics, they turned their attention […]
UNEARTHED: Archival footage of Harry Reid smiling

From appearances, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid derives little pleasure from his job, perhaps a deputy to the paragon of joylessness. But Red Alert Politics has dug into the archives to demonstrate that it wasn't always like this.

Rubio: Obama action would kill immigration reform
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) is urging President Barack Obama to forego taking executive action on immigration, warning that would kill any chance for comprehensive immigration reform. “If indeed you move forward on such a decision, I believe it will close the door to any chance of making progress on immigration reform for the foreseeable future,” […]