April 22 (BNA) — The House Budget Committee is slated April 30 to hold its third in a series of hearings on federal anti-poverty efforts, an area Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has focused on recently.
The hearing will look at “lessons learned” in the 50-year “war on poverty,” according to the committee’s announcement April 22. The witnesses will include Bishop Shirley Holloway, founder of House of Hope City of Help, and Robert Woodson, president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Both organizations are based in the metropolitan Washington area.
The “lessons learned” hearing follows committee hearings held in July 2013 and January 2014 on expanding economic opportunity and assessing progress of the government’s anti-poverty efforts. Ryan has been critical of the costs and effectiveness of the programs.
In March, upon the release of a majority staff analysis of anti-poverty programs, Ryan said, “This report will help start the conversation. It shows that some programs work; others don’t. And for many of them, we just don’t know. Clearly, we can do better. We can rework these federal programs and help families in need lead lives of dignity.”
Democrats have been critical of Ryan’s focus, saying it is intended to justify cuts in anti-poverty programs contained in his budget plans in recent years. The most recent budget plan (H. Con. Res. 96) was adopted by the House on a mostly party-line vote April 10 (70 DER A-21, 4/11/14).
“These poverty programs have helped raise people into the middle class by giving them job experience and it has literally been a lifeline to millions of people,” Rep. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) said in an April 22 conference call with reporters about the budget.
In response to a request from Ryan for information on means-tested mandatory spending programs, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said March 25 those programs are expected to grow at a slower pace in the 2015-2024 budget window than they did in the 2005-2014 period.
The CBO said means-tested mandatory spending programs—which include health programs such as Medicaid, children’s health insurance, health insurance subsidies and some Medicare programs, as well as food support, earned income and child tax credits and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families—are projected to rise at a 5.4 percent annual rate in the next 10 years. That would be below the 6.8 percent annual growth rate posted in the 2005-2014 period.However, CBO said some of the projected slower growth is due to the expiration of some legislative provisions, particularly for food aid and earned income and child tax credits.
Ryan spokesman William Allison told Bloomberg BNA in an e-mail, “The federal budget is still on an unsustainable path. As CBO made clear in their April budget projections, ‘if current laws do not change, the period of shrinking deficits will soon come to an end.’ Chairman Ryan remains committed to avoiding the impending fiscal crisis and strengthening the federal safety net so it can serve the most vulnerable for years to come.”