Progressive Breakfast for July 25

Morning Message

The Achilles’ Heel Of Paul Ryan’s Latest Antipoverty Program

There is at least one fatal flaw in Rep. Paul Ryan’s kinder, gentler version of how conservatives would change federal antipoverty programs: The proposal at the center of his vision, as are the conservatives in whose hands Ryan would entrust it, would be neither kind nor gentle. The core of Ryan’s latest proposal to remake the nation’s safety net programs in a conservative mold, “Expanding Opportunity in America,” would be to combine 11 major federal programs into a single block grant to the states. His aims sound noble. But the block-grant approach has fundamental flaws.

Ryan’s Poverty Plan Panned

Bob Greenstein, of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, says Paul Ryan’s poverty plan would increase poverty and shrink poverty programs: “A centerpiece of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan’s new poverty plan would consolidate 11 safety-net and related programs — from food stamps to housing vouchers, child care, and the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) — into a single block grant to states. This new “Opportunity Grant” would operate initially in an unspecified number of states. While some other elements of the Ryan poverty plan deserve serious consideration, such as those relating to the Earned Income Tax Credit and criminal justice reform, his “Opportunity Grant” would likely increase poverty and hardship, and is therefore ill-advised, for several reasons…”

At the Washington Post, Jared Bernstein says Ryan’s poverty plan attacks the wrong problem and comes up with the wrong solution: “The main problem faced by the American poor is not that there’s something fundamentally wrong with the safety net. It’s that they lack the employment and earnings opportunities necessary to work their way out of poverty. Rep. Paul Ryan, in an interesting anti-poverty plan he outlines Thursday, one with a notable improvement over all his earlier work in this area, fails to understand this basic fact, and thus his plan widely misses the mark. In doing so, it creates deep and unnecessary risks, not to mention a huge new anti-poverty bureaucracy.”

Annie Lowrey pans Paul’s plan to make the poor sign “contracts”: “There’s a lot for liberals to like in here, and there is a significant amount of evidentiary backing for some of his policy proposals. But there’s one reform at the heart of the plan that will make liberals very, very nervous. And there’s one so paternalistic that nobody will take the plan seriously. … Ryan proposes asking poor families to work with a single “provider” — a government agency or approved nonprofit or for-profit group — to build and enact a life plan, in exchange for cash assistance. Oh goodness, let’s run through the ways that this is condescending and wrongheaded.”

Obama Blasts ‘Corporate Deserters’

Obama Seeks to Close Loophole That Firms Use to Shield Profits Abroad. New York Times: “In an appearance at a technical college that was intended to focus on job training, the president used unusually harsh language to describe American companies that acquire overseas companies to relocate for tax reasons, known as inversions. He said they were renouncing their American citizenship by ‘cherry-picking’ the nation’s tax laws at the expense of ordinary taxpayers. ‘These companies are cherry-picking the rules, and it damages the country’s finances,’ Mr. Obama said. ‘It adds to the deficit. It sticks you with the tab to make up for what they are stashing offshore.’ ‘I don’t care if it’s legal — it’s wrong,” he said, prompting the audience to boo the companies taking advantage of the practice.’”

Border Crisis Continues

Central American leaders on solving migrant crisis: We can’t do it alone. The Christian Science Monitor: “Making the rounds on Capitol Hill and at a think tank, two of the presidents – Otto Pérez Molina of Guatemala and Juan Orlando Hernández of Honduras – said they are working hard to resolve the crisis and its underlying causes. But they can’t do it alone. ‘There needs to be an aggressive plan,’ said Mr. Molina, speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The foreign minister for Honduras recently proposed a ‘mini Marshall Plan’ for the region, referring to the US effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.”

Johnson pleads for border surge funding: “Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson says there are signs that the surge in children illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexican border is ebbing, but he is warning that the U.S. government effort to contain the crisis could be crippled if Congress doesn’t promptly approve emergency funding requested by the Obama administration. “If it doesn’t pass, we’re going to run out of money to deal with this,” Johnson declared during an appearance at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado”

US Weighs Refugee Status for Central American Kids. ABC News:
The Obama administration is considering creating a pilot program giving refugee status to young people from Honduras as part of a plan to slow the influx of unaccompanied minors arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border, White House officials said Thursday. The plan would involve screening youths in their home country to determine whether they qualify for refugee status. The program would be limited in scope and would start in Honduras, one of the world’s most violent nations, but if successful could be expanded to include other Central American countries … Obama is expected to discuss the idea Friday during a meeting with the presidents of Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador.”

Obamacare Ruling Update

IRS preps for employee mandate. Politico: “The Obama administration signaled Thursday it’s not backing down from the controversial health law employer mandate that has been delayed twice and is the centerpiece of the House’s lawsuit against the president. The IRS posted drafts of the forms that employers will have to fill out to comply with the Obamacare requirement that employers provide health insurance to workers.”

E.J. Dionne writes that the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling on Obamacare shows how far right-leaning justices have strayed from impartiality: “Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens captured our ideal when he wrote of the judge as ‘an impartial guardian of the rule of law.’ By effectively gutting the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday, two members of a three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals showed how far right-leaning jurists have strayed from such impartiality. We are confronted with a conservative judiciary that will use any argument it can muster to win ideological victories that elude their side in the elected branches of our government. Fortunately, the D.C. Circuit ruling is unlikely to stand. On the same day the D.C. panel issued its opinion, a three-judge panel from the 4th Circuit ruled unanimously the other way and upheld the law.”