WASHINGTON, DC – This morning, House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) participated in a panel discussion with Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Gwen Moore (D-WI) at the Center for American Progress. Moderated by Neera Tanden, the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, the panel discussed Speaker Ryan’s so-called poverty plan and what Congress should be doing to reduce poverty and expand opportunity. Jessica Wynter Martin, an advocate for working families, spoke prior to the panel discussion. Below are excerpts from Whip Hoyer’s comments:
"First of all, the American people don't think the Congress is working, and they are right. The Congress of the United States, for the last number of years now, has been dysfunctional and not operating on behalf of the American people. And they are angry about that... They are not sure who is responsible, they blame us all. But they are very convinced that their board of directors of their country is not working. And is not focused on them, and does not care about their plight. Jessica was extraordinarily articulate in explaining the frustration of people who are working hard and they know they are working hard and they can't make it. We have an agenda that we call Make It In America, which means succeeding in America..."
"...[Speaker Ryan's poverty plan is] a new spin on a bad deal. It's not anything new. It will be, as Republicans have suggested in the past, block grants for programs... [W]hen we block grant programs, almost inevitably, block grant means reducing it. While the rhetoric, I'm sure, that will be in this document sounds good, sounds aspirational, and visionary, the reality behind it will be an empty promise of trying to bring people out of poverty. Which is why I appointed [Rep.] Barbara Lee, I'm sorry that she can't be here today, to chair a task force that we have under the Whip operation on poverty, inequality, and opportunity. Because if we are going to expand the middle class, which is absolutely essential, rather than shrinking the middle class, we need to bring people who are poor into the middle class, to have a living wage. There's so many things we can do – you mentioned minimum wage, EITC, education, investment in infrastructure to create jobs. There are so many things that we need to be doing that we are not doing in the Congress of the United States. And there’s a central premise, in my view, maintained among the majority party of the Congress, and that is essentially… ‘you’re on your own…’ Whether it’s minimum wage, whether it’s child care, whether it’s equal pay, whether it’s voting rights… the basic premise underlying the Majority Party in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate is ‘you’re on your own. That’s not our role.’ As a result, we have a lot of people who are frustrated, a lot of people who are angry, a lot of people who are hurting in America.”
“Speaker Ryan has rhetoric. There will not be an agenda. I predict to you there will be no bills on the Floor of the House of Representatives in the next three or four months that will implement the agenda, the suggestions, in whatever document he has put forward. The fact of the matter is Ryan has rhetoric. It is good rhetoric. He sells it well. But Ryan’s budgets were budgets of retreat, budgets of disinvestment. All you have to do is look at his budgets. His budgets disinvested in education, in people, in infrastructure, in job creation.”