Sen. Lee urges conservatives to lead fight against poverty, echoes Brigham Young's counsel to 'bring them in'

Published: Friday, Nov. 15 2013 6:20 a.m. MST

"To people who are flat on their back, unemployed or disabled and in need of help, they do not care if the help comes from the private sector or the government — they just want help," the Republican paper concluded.

"The answer is to make improving the lives of vulnerable people the primary focus of authentically conservative polices," Arthur Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, urged in a Wall Street Journal article. "For example, the core problem with out-of-control entitlements is not that they are costly — it is that the impending insolvency of Social Security and Medicare imperils the social safety net for the neediest citizens. Education innovation and school choice are not needed to fight rapacious unions and bureaucrats — too often the most prominent focus of conservative education concerns — but because poor children and their parents deserve better schools."

"Our party excels at representing the aspirations of our nation's risk-takers. We celebrate that part of the American Dream that involve finding your passion and making a living from it," 2012 Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said in a Dec. 2012 speech. "But there is another part of the American creed: When our neighbors are struggling, we look out for one another. We do that best through our families and communities — and our party must stand for making them stronger."

Republican critics have long argued that the GOP has an inherent hostility to the poor, as evidenced by party members' approaches to things like food stamp funding, Social Security reform proposals and taxes.

In an Oct. 31 op-ed in The New York Times, Paul Krugman argued that the refusal to expand Medicaid in Republican-led states and proposals to cut food stamp funding show Republicans are "passionate about making sure the poor and unlucky get as little help as possible."

"There is a school of thought on the right that is rooted in the cruel atheism and pseudo-libertarianism of Ayn Rand, and one champion of that is Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., the chairman of the House Budget Committee," Brent Budowsky wrote at The Hill on Oct. 31. "They wage war against the poor and despise any attempt to help them. They embody the curse of selfishness and greed (that) plagues the Republican Party today and is a major source of the unpopularity of the tea party and the GOP today."

David Harsanyi, writing at Human Events after the release of the 2012 Republican election postmortem, warned that while Republicans should be compassionate, they should not try to challenge the Democratic Party in promising that government is the solution and should do more.

"If Republicans start holding up government as the principal source of empathy, hope and charity, American can expect an even bigger arms race in spending and dependency — the kind that, in the end, burdens the young and poor and everyone else," he said.

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