Bipartisan, Common-Sense Solutions

Posted January 28, 2016
By the Annie E. Casey Foundation
Blog bipartisonsolutions 2016

In a Jan. 28 col­umn, New York Times colum­nist Nicholas Kristof high­light­ed the recent re-emer­gence of com­pas­sion­ate con­ser­vatism, a strand of mod­er­ate con­ser­vatism that includes a focus on reduc­ing pover­ty and pro­mot­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty. Sin­gling out two recent Casey-fund­ed ini­tia­tives – the Jack Kemp Forum on Oppor­tu­ni­ty and the Amer­i­can Enter­prise Institute/​Brookings Insti­tu­tion con­sen­sus report on Oppor­tu­ni­ty, Respon­si­bil­i­ty, Secu­ri­ty” – he praised the grow­ing bipar­ti­san sup­port for com­mon-sense, com­mon-ground solutions.

That instinct to show a lit­tle heart helped elect [George W.] Bush but then large­ly dis­ap­peared from Repub­li­can play­books and pol­i­cy. Yet now, amid the Repub­li­can Party’s civ­il war, there are intrigu­ing ini­tia­tives by the House Speak­er, Paul Ryan, and some oth­er con­ser­v­a­tives to revive an inter­est in the needy,” Kristof wrote.

(W)e should still all root for these efforts, because ulti­mate­ly whether the poor get help may depend less on Hillary Clin­ton or Bernie Sanders than on Repub­li­cans at every lev­el. Whether Med­ic­aid is expand­ed, whether we get high-qual­i­ty pre‑K, whether we tack­le addic­tion, fam­i­ly plan­ning and job train­ing, whether lead con­tin­ues to poi­son Amer­i­can chil­dren — all these will depend most­ly on Repub­li­cans who con­trol Con­gress and most states,” the colum­nist added.

Kristof not­ed that Ryan mod­er­at­ed the Jack Kemp forum on pover­ty that drew six Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates and remarked, We now have a safe­ty net that is designed to catch peo­ple falling into pover­ty when what we real­ly need is a safe­ty net that is designed to help get peo­ple out of poverty.”

The col­umn con­clud­ed by stat­ing, The sad truth is that nei­ther par­ty has done enough to address the shame of deep-root­ed pover­ty in Amer­i­ca. So let’s hope for a real con­test in this area, because every­body los­es — above all, America’s need­i­est — when most of the time one par­ty doesn’t even both­er to show up.”

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