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Event Summary



How can we help reduce poverty and increase upward mobility throughout America? On Thursday morning, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveiled his new antipoverty proposal before a packed audience at AEI. His plan to reform public assistance programs for low-income Americans encourages state and local policy innovation and calls for rigorous program evaluations.

Congressman Ryan detailed how his pilot program will reconceive the role of the federal government as a supporter of local and state-based initiatives, specifically through coordination and collaboration among the public, private, and charitable sectors at the community level. Furthermore, the initiative would consolidate up to 11 means-tested programs into a single funding stream over which participating states would have considerable control, if states abide by specific conditions.

Other components of the plan include an expansion of the earned income tax credit, college accreditation reforms to increase access to education, improved job training, a criminal-justice system overhaul, and a repeal of regressive regulations. Additionally, Congressman Ryan stressed that he hopes to create a commission on evidence-based policymaking, which would investigate the possibility of creating a national clearinghouse for program and survey data.


A panel of poverty and economic mobility experts then responded to the congressman’s proposal. Ron Haskins of the Brookings Institution called the reform proposal “sweeping” and particularly supported the idea of empowering local grassroots activists. Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation commended the proposal for incentivizing innovation and moving toward systematic evaluations of programs. The Center for Neighborhood Enterprise’s Bob Woodson also spoke to the value of enlisting the help of community organizations by explaining that, in his experience, those on the local front lines are best equipped to help different people navigate unique challenges and situations.
–Claire Rossi–de Vries

Event Description

This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon B. Johnson’s declaration of the War on Poverty, which promised not only to relieve the symptoms of poverty but also to cure it once and for all. Unfortunately, that promise is still out of reach for 46 million Americans. So what can we do today to expand opportunity for all Americans?

Please join us as House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) unveils a new set of policy reforms aimed at reducing poverty and increasing upward mobility throughout America. Chairman Ryan’s plan seeks to reconnect struggling Americans with their local communities and give social-services programs the flexibility to better serve individual needs. Leading poverty and economic mobility experts will then discuss the policy implications of Chairman Ryan’s plan.

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.


8:30 AM
Registration and Breakfast

9:00 AM
Arthur C. Brooks, AEI

Paul Ryan, US House of Representatives (R-WI)

9:20 AM
Stuart Butler, Heritage Foundation
Robert Doar, AEI
Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution
Paul Ryan, US House of Representatives (R-WI)
Bob Woodson, Center for Neighborhood Enterprise

Robert Doar, AEI

9:50 AM

10:00 AM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Claire Rossi-de Vries at [email protected], 202.862.4874.

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,” “Social Entrepreneurship,” and “Who Really Cares.” 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.

Stuart M. Butler is a distinguished fellow and the director of the Center for Policy Innovation (CPI), a division of the Heritage Foundation charged with designing innovative solutions to some of America’s toughest challenges. Before taking the helm of CPI in August 2010, Butler guided Heritage’s domestic policy research for almost 30 years as vice president for domestic and economic policy studies. During his time at Heritage, he has focused on such issues as welfare reform, health care, and economic mobility. Butler has been published in leading newspapers and academic journals, including The New York Times, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and National Affairs. He has edited several books and is the author of three: “Enterprise Zones: Greenlining the Inner Cities” (Heinemann Educational Publishers, 1982); “Privatizing Federal Spending: A Strategy to Eliminate the Deficit” (Universe Publications, 1985); and, with Anna Kondratas, “Out of the Poverty Trap: A Conservative Strategy for Welfare Reform” (Free Press, 1987). He is currently an adjunct professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy.

Robert Doar is the Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at AEI, where he studies and evaluates how free enterprise and improved federal policies and programs can reduce poverty and provide opportunities for vulnerable Americans. Before joining AEI, Doar worked for Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration as commissioner of New York City’s Human Resources Administration, where he administered 12 public assistance programs, including welfare, food assistance, and public health insurance, and help for people living with HIV/AIDS, for the largest local social-services agency in the United States. Before joining the Bloomberg administration, Doar was New York State commissioner of social services, helping make New York a model for the implementation of welfare reform.

Ron Haskins is a senior fellow in the economic studies program and codirector of the Center on Children and Families at the Brookings Institution. He is also a senior consultant at the Annie E. Casey Foundation in Baltimore. His areas of expertise include welfare reform, child care, child support, marriage, child protection, and budget and deficit issues. From February to December of 2002, Haskins was the senior adviser to the president for welfare policy at the White House. Before joining Brookings and Casey, he spent 14 years on the staff of the House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means Human Resources Subcommittee. From 1981 to 1985, he was a senior researcher at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Center at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill. Haskins has been editor of the Green Book and the journal The Future of Children and is the author of “Work over Welfare: The Inside Story of the 1996 Welfare Reform Law” (Brookings Institution Press, 2006). He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (2000), the President’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Field of Human Services from the American Public Human Services Association (2005), and the Lion Award from the Grantmakers for Children, Youth, and Families (2010).

Paul Ryan is the US representative of Wisconsin’s first congressional district. As chairman of the House Budget Committee, he has led the effort to balance the federal budget and pay off the national debt. He also serves on the House Ways and Means Committee, where he has worked to simplify the tax code, make health care more affordable, and expand opportunity for all Americans. Rep. Ryan is now serving his eighth term in the House. In 2008, he gained attention nationwide when he unveiled his Roadmap for America’s Future, a plan to cut wasteful spending, reform the tax code, and save Medicare and Social Security for future generations. In 2011, Rep. Ryan became chairman of the House Budget Committee and introduced the Path to Prosperity, a plan to pay off the national debt and grow the economy. The House has passed his budget proposal four years in a row. In 2012, Rep. Ryan was the Republican nominee for vice president of the United States. In 2013, Rep. Ryan and Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) negotiated the first budget agreement in a divided Congress since 1986.

Bob Woodson
is founder and president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Woodson’s social activism dates back to the 1960s, when he developed and coordinated national and local community development programs. During the 1970s he directed the National Urban League’s Administration of Justice division. Later, he served as a resident fellow at AEI. In 1981, Woodson founded the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise for the purpose of strengthening and advocating for neighborhood-based organizations struggling to serve their communities. Woodson has received the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation Prize, and the Presidential Citizens Medal. He has authored several books, including “Youth Crime and Urban Policy: A View from the Inner City” (AEI Press, 1981), “On the Road to Economic Freedom: An Agenda for Black Progress” (Regnery Publishing, 1987), and “The Triumphs of Joseph: How Today’s Community Healers are Reviving Our Streets and Neighborhoods” (Free Press, 1998).

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