Paul Ryan Declares War on Poverty; Catholics Accuse Him of 'Pandering'

GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan said in his first major policy speech on Wednesday that his party will help lift up America's poor – but a Catholic organization has said that his promises, coming less than two weeks before the Nov. 6 elections, are simply "pandering" to the swing states.

"Mitt Romney and I are running because we believe that Americans are better off in a dynamic, free-enterprise-based economy that fosters economic growth, opportunity and upward mobility instead of a stagnant, government-directed economy that stifles job creation and fosters government dependency," Ryan said at a campaign stop in Cleveland, Ohio, which is one of the most contested swing states.

"Upward mobility is the central promise of life in America but right now, America's engines of upward mobility aren't working the way they should," the congressman added.

A recent report by The Christian Post highlighted that both President Barack Obama and GOP candidate Mitt Romney failed to talk about specific plans to help the poor during the presidential debates, and have chosen to focus on other issues this political season. Ryan is arguing, however, that the poor have suffered in the past four years while Obama was president, because "throwing money" at anti-poverty programs without a specific plan of how to help families and communities get back on their feet is not achieving any results.

"During the last four years, the number of people living on food stamps has gone up by 15 million. Medicaid is reaching a breaking point, and one in four American student fails to attain a high-school diploma," Ryan said. "In this war on poverty, poverty is winning. We deserve better."

As a way to fight this war on poverty, the Republican suggested that a Romney administration would take away the responsibility from the federal government and give it back to the states, allowing them more flexibility to deal with those left behind.

"Mitt Romney and I want to apply this idea to other anti-poverty programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps," he said. "The federal government would continue to provide the resources, but we would remove the endless federal mandates and restrictions that hamper state efforts to make these programs more effective."

However, Ryan's old budget plan, which includes cuts to several social programs, has been criticized as being too harsh and detrimental to the progress of those communities who rely on the help.

The VP candidate, who is a Roman Catholic, was accused of "pandering" by Catholics United, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting social justice and who states that Christ's first mission is to help the poor and marginalized.

"From staging after-hours photo opportunities in closed food pantries in Youngstown to this re-tooled stump speech on serving the poorest in Cleveland, it's clear Rep. Ryan needs to seriously examine what his faith teaches about serving those on the margins when the swing state cameras aren't rolling," Executive Director James Salt said, according to Fox News. "It's important to remember the budget proposals he wrote in Washington cynically cut major funding to the very institutions he visits and claims are vital to protecting the powerless."

The Obama campaign has also responded to Ryan's speech, saying that it "existed in an alternate universe. Unfortunately for Mitt Romney, no matter how they couch it, their agenda is extreme."

Danny Kanner, a spokesperson for the campaign, added: "The American people understand that Mitt Romney would take us back, and no change in rhetoric in the campaign's final weeks can change that."

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