These head-scratching moments aside, I found the entire frame of the hearing as laid out by Chairman Ryan to be seriously flawed. Ostensibly, it was to examine the most effective ways to fight poverty as we approach the fiftieth anniversary of the War on Poverty next year.
“Government focuses too much on inputs,” said Chairman Ryan. “We focus on how much money we spend. Instead, we should focus on results.”
It’s a claim he has made consistently since last year. But it’s Representative Ryan and his conservative colleagues who are constantly bemoaning the amount of money spent on anti-poverty programs—money we “confiscate” from taxpayers, said Indiana Republican Congressman Todd Rokita—while dismissing the data that show how effective these programs can be.
Indeed there are many poverty scholars who have found positive outcomes in both the short- and long-term for children and adults who participate in anti-poverty programs. Research from Arloc Sherman (here, here, hereand here), Hilary Hoynes and Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach, Greg Duncan and Katherine Magnusonand organizations like Children’s HealthWatch—to name just a few—reveal that these programs contribute to improved health, higher achievement and greater financial security, for example.