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.”