This week on the topic of poverty, Congressman Ryan spoke. A day later he and his Republican colleagues voted.
What's clear is that action speaks louder than words. And at every turn over the last three years, the actions House Republicans have taken have prioritized cuts to programs for low-and middle-income families.
Funding for Medicaid and the Children's Health Insurance Program was slashed in the Ryan-Republican budget. Social Services Block Grants were eliminated. Food assistance, Pell higher education grants, job training and housing assistance were all dramatically scaled back. And of course, an extension of unemployment insurance and a raise in the minimum wage were both blocked by House Republicans.
The new Republican rhetoric on poverty is no match for the deeply troubling actions they have repeatedly taken, and continued to take this week with changes they passed to the Child Tax Credit. The bill completely ignores the need to extend the 2017 expiration of the expanded refundable portion of the Child Tax Credit, which if allowed to occur would push 12 million people, including six million children, into poverty or deeper into poverty, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
Republicans may say that such an extension could be done later. But that talk about future action is made incredulous when Republicans have passed in unpaid-for tax cuts to more than $700 billion.
Instead, the legislation expands and makes permanent the availability of the credit to many new, upper middle-income families whose incomes are too high to qualify under current law. A married couple making $160,000 with two children would get an additional $2,200 in their 2018 tax refund, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. A single mother of two making $14,500 would see her refund cut by $1,750.
It gets worse. Republicans inserted a provision into the legislation requiring recipients of the Child Tax Credit to provide their Social Security number - a change that could lead to the loss of the Child Tax Credit for the families of five million children, four million of whom are U.S. citizens. What's more, 400,000 veteran and armed forces families will lose all or part of their credit.
There's a reason that United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opposes this requirement - because it is a deeply flawed proposal that would leave millions of families with children behind.
Ben Franklin once said, "Well done is better than well said." It is even truer that well said cannot obscure what is harmfully done.