GOP Pitches Anti-Poverty Initiatives

Tuesday, 12 Aug 2014 09:30 AM

By Melanie Batley

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Several potential 2016 GOP presidential candidates are proposing anti-poverty measures in a sign that the party is concerned about appealing to lower-income voters.

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman is the latest in a string of congressional colleagues who are bringing renewed focus to anti-poverty initiatives, the Dayton Daily News reported.

"The persistent problem of poverty is not going to go away unless we work together across party lines, across all lines," he said in a speech in Cleveland last month. He added that poverty has created "two Americas" and that "even during good economic times, people fall between the cracks."

The comments come on the heels of anti-poverty efforts by other leading Republicans, most recently former vice presidential nominee, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, who put forward a proposal in July.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio also put forward a plan to help low-income people enroll their children in privately run schools, as well as a proposal to transfer more federal dollars to states to manage their poverty programs.

"They realize they can't build a majority party by attacking the 47 percent," James Manly, a former aide to Massachusetts Sen. Edward Kennedy, told the Daily News, referring to Mitt Romney's infamous remark that 47 percent of Americans would vote for Barack Obama because "they believe that government has a responsibility to care for them."

"They are smart enough to recognize Romney's comments were radioactive, but in the end their proposals are still block-granting programs to the states and tax cuts to the wealthy," he added.

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