by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Billed as the first plank in a six-plank agenda aimed at showing how conservative principles can lead to a more “confident America”, the 35-page document outlines ways that Ryan hopes the House of Representatives will be able to push for reforms to programs that too long have made it hard for people to move up out of poverty.
The Speaker’s ambitious proposal involves doing a better job measuring outcomes to ensure that programs are actually helping the people they are supposed to help. It also focuses on ensuring incentives are aligned so that people who can work are able to participate in the workforce and lift themselves up.
Ryan’s message matters. In a world where many voters – particularly young voters – no longer think that hard work will help you get ahead in America, people are looking for someone to outline how we can all move up in a system that feels rigged against the average person.
For too long, I’ve walked into focus group after focus group and heard thoughtful voters tell me that they view the Republican Party as uncaring, focused on keeping the rich richer and the poor poorer. I know this is light-years away from why I chose to join the Republican Party. Perhaps most eloquently articulated in Arthur Brooks’ The Conservative Heart, the moral case for conservatism and markets as an incredible vehicle for lifting people out of poverty is a powerful one.
I also believe that Ryan’s message is one that could go a long way to repairing the Republican Party’s fortunes with key voter groups. Many Republicans joined the party because they love the Constitution, believe in federalism or want to cut spending, among other reasons. But lots of voters including middle-class voters, might be with the GOP if they thought Republicans cared about people like them and others who are deserving of help.