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Paul Ryan is once again attempting to stoke his carefully cultivated Republican Who Cares About Poverty image. Naturally, he's doing so with a proposal that would hurt poor people. Ryan wants to consolidate as many as 11 anti-poverty programs into one block of funding that states could do with as they wished, provided they instituted work requirements, limited the duration of benefits, and provided what Ryan refers to as accountability. Ryan insists that this isn't about cutting benefits but about using them differently, but here's a clue to what he's envisioning: elderly and disabled people, as "two especially vulnerable groups" which "need specific kinds of care," would get a host of special protections. In other words, the people Ryan classifies as deserving poor would be protected from what he plans to do do all the other poor people.

As for the non-deserving (in Ryan's eyes) poor?

In the envisioned scenario providers would work with families to design a customized life plan to provide a structured roadmap out of poverty. When crafting a life plan, they would include, at a minimum:

• A contract outlining specific and measurable benchmarks for success
• A timeline for meeting these benchmarks
• Sanctions for breaking the terms of the contract
• Incentives for exceeding the terms of the contract
• Time limits for remaining on cash assistance

And screw you if there are no jobs available or if the jobs available leave you in poverty because Republicans like Paul Ryan refuse to raise the minimum wage. You're still getting punished for not magicking yourself out of poverty according to the terms of the contract you were forced to sign in order to get enough to eat. And while Ryan insists that he's not cutting aid overall, he is building a massive amount of bureaucracy into his requirements. More money might go to things like figuring out whether people should be punished for remaining poor, cutting into the amount available to actually help them. That's not even getting into the privatization aspects of Ryan's plan, either, but he would require that states use private service providers, including "approved non-profits, for-profits or even community groups unique to [the recipient's] neighborhood."

It's a recipe for a fragmented, punitive system with much of the responsibility for shaping programs turned over to state governments—to governors like Texas' Rick Perry and Florida's Rick Scott, to the same politicians who refused to expand Medicaid. In other words, it's just what you'd expect of Paul Ryan: the ultimate heartless Republican attempt to slash the safety net into ribbons, cloaked in the guise of concerned condescension.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Jul 24, 2014 at 07:44 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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