Constructive conservatism — a bottom-up approach to tackling poverty: An address by Senator Rob Portman
Tracing the root causes of poverty and helping Americans lift themselves up
About This Event


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Event Summary

Marking 50 years since President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty, Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) joined AEI to discuss new ways to combat poverty in America. Focusing his remarks on a "constructive conservative" agenda, Sen. Portman outlined reforms for US poverty programs combatting drug abuse, protecting vulnerable children, promoting job training, and providing former inmates with the skills to help them exit a life of crime. 

Sen. Portman argued that the GOP must take a leadership role in helping the less fortunate in America, noting that although Washington has relied on federal solutions, policymakers should prioritize providing communities with tools to implement programs tailored to specific needs. Contending that "poverty and drug abuse are intimately tied together," Sen. Portman stated that there is a compelling need for a more universal solution. 

He likewise suggested that the president should join Congress in seeking long-term solutions to drug-based incarcerations, rather than using proposed executive orders to grant clemency, which he considered a bandage for a bigger problem. Sen. Portman concluded by noting that, while there is a role for the federal government in poverty prevention, President Johnson correctly observed that the War on Poverty “must be won in the field . . . from the courthouse to the White House.”
--Bailey Longhofer 

Event Description

Speaking of a society “where no child will go unfed, and no youngster will go unschooled,” President Lyndon B. Johnson announced the War on Poverty 50 years ago this May. However, after $15 trillion spent on poverty reduction measures over the last five decades, 47 million Americans are still living in poverty today.

Please join Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) for an address that looks at constructive reforms to how we approach drug addiction, recidivism, and other issues that will allow us to begin to break the cycle of poverty that too many Americans still live in.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


10:15 AM

10:30 AM
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

Rob Portman, US Senate (R-OH)

11:00 AM
Question-and-Answer Session

11:15 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact John VerWey at [email protected], 202.862.5839.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Arthur C. Brooks is the president of AEI and the Beth and Ravenel Curry Scholar in Free Enterprise. Until January 1, 2009, he was the Louis A. Bantle Professor of Business and Government Policy at Syracuse University. He is the author of 10 books and many articles on topics ranging from the economics of the arts to applied mathematics. His books include “The Road to Freedom: How to Win the Fight for Free Enterprise” (Basic Books, 2012), “Social Entrepreneurship” (Prentice Hall, 2008), and “Who Really Cares” (Basic Books, 2006). Before pursuing his work in public policy, Brooks spent 12 years as a professional French hornist with the City Orchestra of Barcelona and other ensembles.

Rob Portman began his term as a US senator representing Ohio in January 2011 and currently serves on the Senate Committee on the Budget, Committee on Energy and Commerce, Committee on Finance, and Committee on Homeland Security and Government Affairs. Growing up, Sen. Portman worked at Portman Equipment Company, which his father had started and grown into a company of 300 employees. He then went into private practice as a lawyer and in 1993 was elected to the US House of Representatives, where he served Ohio’s Second Congressional District for 12 years. In the House, he was known for finding bipartisan agreement on initiatives to increase retirement savings, reform the Internal Revenue Service, add more than 50 new taxpayer rights, curb unfunded mandates, reduce taxes, and expand drug prevention and land conservation efforts. In 2005, Sen. Portman was chosen to be the US trade representative, the cabinet-level official responsible for implementing and enforcing US trade policy, and then served as the director of the Office of Management and Budget.

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