Dana Loesch opened Monday's Glenn Beck Program simple yet powerful message: Poverty is a choice. Despite what those in Washington D.C. would like us to believe, there is a path out of poverty that does not involve checks from the government and entitlement programs.
"I know a thing or two about poverty," Dana said. "I spent my childhood in a house headed by a single mom, and sometimes we would have milk, gravy, and biscuits twice a day to save money."
As Dana explained, she grew up tiny, rented house in a small town with her single mother who worked three minimum wage jobs to provide as best she could for her daughter. While she didn't always have three meals a day to eat or the proper school supplies, Dana explained they got by because of her mother's hard work - not a government handout.
"Here's something: My mom never went on welfare. We never took entitlements," Dana said. "She worked three jobs… but she never once went on a single food stamp. Nothing. She made minimum wage, and we survived."
While her mother was entitled to pursue happiness, there was no guarantee that pursuit would be easy. No one, as Dana explained, is entitled to easiness. But everyone is entitled to choose how they wish to live their life. Look no further than President Barack Obama to understand no one in the United States is a slave to the class they were born into.
"My mother did not choose poverty. She may have been born with it, but she didn't choose it," Dana said emphatically. "You cannot tell me that poverty is forced upon people… That's a lie that survives because a particular political entity lives on the power of grievance."
With the left's entire political capital tied up in the promise of 'free' stuff and government assistance, it is time for the right to come forward with principle-based solutions to the problems that currently keep people in poverty. Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) is one Republican speaking out about the issue via his "Expanding Opportunity in America" plan and his new book, The Way Forward: Renewing the American Idea. Ryan joined Dana to discuss the solutions he believes forge a path forward.
While Ryan's plan has received criticism from some on the right for not doing enough to thwart entitlement spending and some on the left for consolidating a number of welfare programs, he is one of the few politicians actually speaking out about the issue at all.
Despite being 50 years into the War on Poverty and spending trillions of dollars on government programs, Ryan said the United States is facing its highest poverty rate in a generation. Ryan explained the origins of poverty are complicated because some people experience a "generational poverty," in which they face persistent, multi-generational poverty, while others face a more temporary struggle due to the death of a spouse or the loss of a job.
"There are a lot of different ways people go into poverty," he said. "The point I'm focusing on is, instead of having what I call an 'input-based' approach… based on how much money government spends [and] how many programs are created… why don't we think about measuring it based on outcomes, effort, are we getting people out of poverty, results?"
Ultimately, Ryan wants to focus on getting people "from welfare to work" - not via Washington D.C.'s top-down approach that has "failed" time and time again, but by giving states and communities the ability to implement these principles as they see fit.
Under Ryan's plan, states will need to prove they have met certain criteria and outputs in order to qualify for what is essentially a block grant.
"There are strings," Ryan said of the grant. "People have to work, and they have to measure the results. [States] can't take the money and spend it on filling potholes. It has to be [spent] on serving the poor, [but] they can customize it, consolidate it."
"You have to break up the welfare monopolies," he continued. "Right now, most welfare is gotten from a local government agency. You have to break it up and let other entities - non profits, for profits, religious charities - let them in on the game of providing welfare benefits and assistance… so families in need actually have choices."
While "liberal progressives" seek to take power and money from communities and give it to the government so that a large, centralized force is essentially responsible for administering rights, his plan seeks to return to the conservative ideals of a limited government that works for the people.
"Let's get back to those core, founding principles," Ryan concluded. "Let's get back to Constitutional principles… by focusing on outcomes and focusing on results."