Today I am excited to take the stage at the Conservative Political Action Conference and interview House Speaker Paul Ryan about his ongoing work around the issue of fighting poverty. Democrats and progressives have traditionally scored higher among voters on the issues of poverty and social mobility. Unfortunately, Republicans and conservatives, with few exceptions like Jack Kemp, a mentor to Ryan, have been absent or played defense on this issue. That time is now over. We conservatives have powerful ideas to move our country forward, and it’s time we give them a chance to shine.
After the 2012 election, under the guidance of Bob Woodson from the Center For Neighborhood Enterprise, Speaker Ryan made it a priority to visit impoverished communities throughout the country to discuss the important issue of poverty blighting our communities. He did these visits largely in private sans press, and his visits continue today. However, I have helped share a few select site visits with inspiring community leaders in Comeback film series created by Opportunity Lives, where I am a senior contributor.
This past January, Speaker Ryan–along with Sen. Tim Scott, The Kemp Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, andOpportunity Lives–spearheaded a presidential poverty forum in Columbia, S.C. At that time, we were thrilled to host presidential candidates John Kasich, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush, Chris Christie, Mike Huckabee to dialogue on these issues, which are now a central component of the conservative movement’s focus.
A coherent, localized approach to fighting poverty is one tenet of larger agenda a task force of House Republicans are currently working on for a 2017 agenda should Republicans take the White House. The task force met last week, releasing broad goals and planning to develop specific recommendations by late spring.
Today I plan to discuss with Speaker Ryan how we as conservatives need to embrace the issues of poverty alleviation and social mobility. We will explore some of the themes researched by a host of scholars like Scott Winship, Arthur Brooks, Charles Murray, Robert Putnam, Orlando Patterson, Isabel Sawhill, whose work informs the quantitative analysis behind what we already know as conservatives: that a blank government check cannot heal a broken heart or home. That a decline in civil society and social capital undermine the war on poverty. That strong families are key factors in fighting poverty, crime, drug addiction and incarceration. That economic opportunity and personal responsibility are more potent tools to fighting poverty than a sprawling, distant, federal bureaucracy.
We know these facts as conservatives, and it’s time we found new ways to share these messages with the world. We are grateful to the organizers of CPAC for allowing us this opportunity to continue this fight.
Carrie Sheffield is the founder of Bold. She is passionate about storytelling to empower and connect others.