Rhetoric of Compassion in Cleveland Speech Contrasts Sharply with Budget Proposals That Would Devastate Safety Net Programs for Poor.
NEW YORK, Oct. 26, 2012 - Reaction to Congressman Paul Ryan's "poverty speech" delivered at a campaign rally in Cleveland Wednesday has been intense from individuals and organizations that work with the more than one in five U.S. children whose families exist at or below federal poverty levels. The number of families living in poverty has risen significantly since the recession began in late 2007.
While Congressman Ryan bemoaned current U.S. poverty rates, he praised individual charity and community organizations, and the need to lift people out of poverty. According to Dr. Irwin Redlener, President of the Children's Health Fund and Professor at Columbia University, "Congressman Ryan's speech was breath-taking in the level of hypocrisy regarding poverty in the U.S., one of the nation's most serious domestic challenges."
Congressman Ryan claimed that he and Mitt Romney believe in "true compassion"; yet the budgets they've proposed would devastate critical anti-poverty programs, including those that provide vital services to poor children who face major challenges accessing health care, early education programs and adequate nutrition, such as those provided by school lunch and breakfast programs.
Dr. Redlener continued, "We should remember that the Romney-Ryan budget proposals would eliminate at least $5.3 trillion in non-defense budget cuts, with more than 60% of these cuts coming from programs that provide nutrition, education and health care to children and families in need."
The impact of these cuts would be far-reaching. Dr. Redlener stated that "Cutting education, health care programs and supplemental nutrition programs for families have serious long-term economic consequences. Children who are inadequately nourished during their early years or who have undiagnosed or untreated medical problems during school age, won't learn to their full potential, and they may end up as liabilities, rather than assets to the U.S. economy in the coming decades."
Over the last four years, programs to assist poor families, including the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit programs have been stabilized or expanded. Similarly, vital safety net programs, such as school lunches and community-based early education programs have been augmented or have been proposed for substantial expansion. And the Affordable Care Act, when fully implemented will provide comprehensive health insurance coverage to nearly 5 million of the nation's 7 million uninsured children.
If promises by Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan ever materialize, that would represent the end to health care access for millions of children, with no alternative coverage solutions currently proposed.
Founded in 1987 by singer/songwriter Paul Simon and pediatrician/advocate Irwin Redlener, M.D., Children's Health Fund (CHF) is the nation's leading pediatric provider of mobile-based health care for homeless and low-income children and their families. CHF's mission is to bring health care directly to those in need through the development and support of innovative medical programs, response to public health crises, and the promotion of guaranteed access to health care for all children. CHF currently has 50 mobile clinics serving hundreds of locations across the country. Over the past 24 years, the organization has supported more than two million health care visits for disadvantaged children, often in places where doctors and health care providers are in short supply.
For more information about CHF, visit www.childrenshealthfund.org .