Is It Possible For Conservatives To Be Serious About Poverty?

Bill Scher

After Paul Ryan executed a triple face-flop in his attempt to seize the debate on poverty, I thought conservatives could use a little advice. So the good people at the Daily Caller today published my “Advice from a liberal: 4 things conservatives must do to be taken seriously on poverty.”

When I give advice, I try to stay within the bounds of reality: I’m not going to tell a conservative to change teams and become a liberal, because that’s not going to happen. But conservatives could approach the debate in a much more serious way, without sacrificing their own principles, and the country would be better off if they did.

So I didn’t propose anything that amounted to spending a lot of federal taxpayer money or redistributing the wealth. I offered advice that squares with who they claim to be.

Top of my list was: “Attack Racists. A Lot.” This to me speaks to the big conservative blind spot: They are so obsessed about perceived “political correctness” that they can’t see the obvious. When a Ted Nugent pops off, you don’t go campaigning with him! You excommunicate him!

This is a real low bar to clear. If Republicans made it their business to pounce on and publicly shame every conservative race-baiter, they would be wildly applauded and receive tons of new credibility. And it wouldn’t cost a dime!

But the most substantive adjustment Republicans could make is at the state level. Most conservative policy prescriptions still center around delegating power and money away from the feds and to the states. Liberals knock this is a back door way to cut aid to the poor, giving states money with no strings attached that will get diverted for other uses.

Republicans would be able to counter this argument if … they had Republican governors who spent a lot of money on fighting poverty. Instead, they have a lot of governors who are refusing federal money to expand Medicaid. If that changed, and we had trustworthy leadership on the state level, Democrats probably wouldn’t mind at all if states took the lead. Remember, Obamacare was designed to be a state-led operation. It’s only become more federalized because conservative governors opted out.

For the rest of my advice, click here.

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