WASHINGTON – Today, Senator Mike Lee outlined a conservative anti-poverty agenda to address the growing opportunity crisis in America.  His speech, at a forum sponsored by the Heritage Foundation, detailed the causes of social immobility among the working and middle class and charted several reforms that clear a path to help individuals and families stuck in poverty.

“Nineteen-sixty-four wasn’t the year Americans started fighting poverty; it was the year we started losing that fight,” said Sen. Lee. “To start winning again, conservatives are going to have to lead the way - not simply by offering criticism, but alternatives. Our job is to identify the obstructions that impede Americans’ access to our market economy and civil society and clear them.”

Lee previewed several pieces of legislation, some with bipartisan support, that could be part of a conservative anti-poverty agenda, such as changing the current incentive structure to today’s welfare programs, increasing flexibility for states in Medicaid and Head Start, expanding access to higher education through accreditation reform, as well as improving our criminal justice and prison systems. 

“What makes America exceptional – and life worth living - is not simply individual freedom, but the heroic, empowering communities that free individuals form… Organic communities formed within the free market and civil society’s networks of opportunity are not threats that poor families need more protection from. They are blessings that poor families need more access to,” said Lee.

“Properly considered, then, the war on poverty is not so much about lifting people up. It’s about bringing people in. And so the challenge to conservatives today is to rethink the war on poverty along these lines, to bring into our economy and society the individuals, families, and communities that have for five decades been unfairly locked out.”

Read the full speech (html version) here: http://www.lee.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2013/11/bring-them-in

Bring Them In: Senator Lee Outlines Conservative Anti-Poverty Agenda