Here's Why the Ryan/Rubio Anti-Poverty Campaigns Are So Radical

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 14 2014 8:49 AM

Here's Why the Ryan/Rubio Anti-Poverty Campaigns Are So Radical

Rad, by Republican standards.

Photo by Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Yesterday, to not much fanfare, Rep. Paul Ryan gave the keynote address at a liberal think tank's half-day poverty summit. It was the conclusion, for now, of a weeklong series of speeches meant to mark the anniversary of LBJ's first State of the Union address, the one that announced and defined the "War on Poverty." By the end of last week, I'd watched most of these speeches in person, and heard Ryan, Marco Rubio, and even a group of House conservatives try to reframe their economic goals as solutions to poverty.

Rubio and Ryan ended up sounding—for Republicans, in 2014—fairly radical. Both suggested that the government, that tax redistribution, could be tools for the relief of poverty. Cash payments, consolidated down from the mess of current anti-poverty programs, were worth talking about.


Why do I call it radical? Look to South Carolina, where state Sen. Lee Bright is challenging Sen. Lindsey Graham from the right and telling fellow Republicans that the income tax encourages the sin of envy and enables welfare dependency.

This entitlement to other people’s property because you want their stuff is just wrong. And I think most of our problems in our country are spiritual problems, but there again it is about liberty. And liberty is just the right to keep what is yours. And when you raise taxes and put that burden on people you take away their freedom. And what they do is that is how they control us, with that tax code. 

That's the conventional wisdom, even if it's coming from a primary challenger.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows


The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.


More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. What Exactly Is Holding Us Back?

  News & Politics
Sept. 17 2014 5:21 PM Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS But the next president might. 
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
Gentleman Scholar
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM Should Men Still Open Doors for Women? Or is it ungentlemanly to do so at all?  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 4:36 PM Is Nonfiction the Patriarch of Literary Genres?
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 5:56 PM Watch Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and More on New YouTube Channel
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 5:26 PM If Fixing Global Warming Is Free, What’s the Holdup?
  Health & Science
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?