What To Know Before Paul Ryan's Poverty Speech

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Rep. Paul Ryan takes the stage at the 2012 Republican National Convention.

Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan is headed back to Ohio on Wednesday, where he will address a subject that isn’t exactly a strong point for the Republican ticket: how they will apply conservative solutions to help the nation’s poor.

In what will be his first major policy speech since becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate, Ryan will talk about “upward mobility and the economy” at Cleveland State University. According to excerpts from the speech made available to national media outlets, Ryan’s speech will attempt to frame the Republican presidential candidate as a compassionate conservative who, despite his enormous wealth and business background, can relate to the problems experienced by average Americans.

“As for Mitt Romney, he not only understands the importance of community -- he’s lived it. He’s a guy who, at the height of a successful business, took the time to serve as a lay pastor for his church for 14 years, counseling people in Boston’s inner-city neighborhoods, especially when they lost a job,” Ryan will say, according to excerpts released by the campaign. “We are here in partnership on behalf on an idea that no matter who your parents are, no matter where you come from, you should have the opportunity in America to rise, to escape from poverty and to achieve whatever your God-given talents and hard work enable you to achieve.”

However, as has been widely reported during the 2012 campaign -- and used as fuel in Democratic-backed attack ads -- the Ryan-Romney ticket has supported policies that appear to counteract the message of “upward mobility” it is championing only two weeks before Election Day. Here are some key facts to know about how the GOP platform would affect the least fortunate Americans:

Romney proposes cutting the earned income tax credit and child tax credit.  The Romney tax reform plan calls for repealing an expansion of both the Child Tax Credit and the Earned Income Tax Credit, both of which primarily aid lower-income families. A repeal of the Child Tax Credit -- generally $1,000 per child – could result in either a smaller credit or no credit at all for the families of 15.8 million children, according to the Center for American Progress. Prior to 2009, families with three or more children received the same tax credit under the Earned Income Tax Credit; a provision enacted in 2009 made those families eligible for an additional benefit. Under the Romney plan, a two-parent family raising three children on a $30,000 household income would lose $1,706 per year.

Ryan budget guts low-income programs. The most recent budget proposal authored by Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, would take at least $3.3 trillion of its nondefense budget cuts over 10 years from programs that aid the poor. That translates to 62 percent of its proposed cuts, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, or CBPP.

Those cuts include $134 billion in reductions to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP (formerly known as the Food Stamp Program), meaning up to 10 million people would no longer be eligible for the food assistance. SNAP helped keep 3.9 million out of poverty last year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

The Ryan budget would also reduce Medicaid funding by $2.4 trillion and institute at least $463 million in cuts to mandatory programs serving low-income Americans, the CBPP reports. The organization reports that, based on Ryan budget documents, a chunk of the $166 billion in mandatory cuts for education, employment and social services “would likely come mainly from the mandatory portion of the Pell Grant program for low-income students.”

Religious leaders are objecting. Earlier this year, the PICO National Network, a grass-roots network of faith-based community organizations, condemned the Ryan budget for gutting anti-poverty initiatives, arguing that “it’s the height of hypocrisy for Rep. Ryan to claim that his approach to the budget is shaped by Catholic teachings and values.”

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops have also objected to the proposed cuts, writing several letters to congressional leaders imploring them to “protect essential help for poor families and vulnerable children and to put the poor first in budget priorities.”

Bush-inspired economic platform. In April, a spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee said the RNC’s 2012 platform would be the same as during the Bush administration, “just updated,” and did not dispute the fact the administration struggled when it came to job creation.

The GOP platform states that government programs are “undermining the expectation that low-income parents and individuals should strive to support themselves” and calls for reforming the system by cutting those benefits and reforming the public assistance to ensure it “promotes work.” During the eight years of the Bush administration, the Center for American Progress reports 8.3 million people fell into poverty, with child poverty increasing by 3 percent.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated the Ryan Budget would cut $5.3 billion from government programs that aid the poor. In fact, the budget calls for a total of $5.3 billion in non-defense programs, $3.3 trillion of which would apply to low-income programs.

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