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Paul Ryan's Attack on Work and Self-Sufficiency

Ilana Novick

With comments straight out of President Reagan's "welfare queens" playbook, Paul Ryan is attempting to justify his proposed budgets cuts to various programs that help the poor, claiming the safety net "provides a powerful disincentive to get ahead." Never mind that since the 1996 Personal Responsibility and Welfare Reform Act, aka, "welfare reform," most of the remaining income assistance programs are both means-tested and work-based. 

Perhaps most troubling are proposed cuts to the EITC and CTC, which counter to Ryan's argument, actually reward work. According to the CBPP report, "In 2011, these EITC and CTC improvements lifted 1.5 million people in working families, including 800,000 children, out of poverty." But while the "fiscal cliff" deal early this year extended important improvements to the EITC and the CTC through 2017, the Ryan budget would not only ditch this increased assistance to the working poor, but include still unspecified cuts in the "income security function," which includes the refundable credits.