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

163768813-republican-representative-from-wisconsin-and-former
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.

Advertisement

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. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Sports Nut

Grandmaster Clash

One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.

The Extraordinary Amicus Brief That Attempts to Explain the Wu-Tang Clan to the Supreme Court Justices

Amazon Is Officially a Gadget Company. Here Are Its Six New Devices.

Uh-Oh. The World’s Oceans Have Broken Their All-Time Heat Record.

The NFL Explains How It Sees “the Role of the Female”

Future Tense

How to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police

Food

How to Order Chinese Food

First, stop thinking of it as “Chinese food.”

A Simple Way to Keep Apple From Sharing Your iPhone Data With the Police

The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant

The XX Factor
Sept. 18 2014 11:40 AM The Country Where Women Aren’t Allowed to Work Once They’re 36 Weeks’ Pregnant
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 18 2014 8:20 PM A Clever Attempt at Explaining Away a Vote Against the Farm Bill
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 18 2014 6:02 PM A Chinese Company Just Announced the Biggest IPO in U.S. History
  Life
Outward
Sept. 18 2014 4:15 PM Reactions to a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Reveal Transmisogyny
  Double X
Doublex
Sept. 18 2014 8:07 PM Crying Rape False rape accusations exist, and they are a serious problem.
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 18 2014 1:23 PM “It’s Not Every Day That You Can Beat the World Champion” An exclusive interview with chess grandmaster Fabiano Caruana.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 18 2014 4:33 PM The Top 5 Dadsplaining Moments From The Cosby Show
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 18 2014 6:48 PM By 2100 the World's Population Could Be 11 Billion
  Health & Science
Science
Sept. 18 2014 3:35 PM Do People Still Die of Rabies? And how do you know if an animal is rabid?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.