A Review of Paul Ryan’s ‘A Better Way’ Plan: Part 1

Written by Jessica AcMoody, Senior Policy Specialist

This is part 1 of a 3 part series.


“The policy principles lay out how the House aims to tackle a wide rage of poverty-related issues, including welfare programs, education, food access, retirement services and access to banking and credit.”



us-capitol-1273914_1280On Tuesday, June 7, 2016, Speaker Paul Ryan and House Republicans unveiled their new anti-poverty agenda (which can be found here). The document is the first piece of a larger agenda entitled “A Better Way”, that Ryan says demonstrates what Republicans hope to achieve with the election wins of three weeks ago.  The policy principles lay out how the House aims to tackle a wide range of poverty-related issues, including welfare programs, education, food access, retirement services and access to banking and credit.

The agenda aims to ensure that any work-eligible recipients of welfare benefits under programs such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) find or prepare for work. This would include reforms that expand work requirements to include housing benefits, like federal rental assistance under the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The agenda would also give states the freedom to experiment with their unemployment insurance programs, with the intent of reforming the system and moving more unemployed workers toward employment in a quicker fashion.

Finances, Children and Education


dollar-941246_1920Additionally, the plan calls for further accountability through a social impact financing program. In this program, the government determines a desired social outcome, and an intermediary identifies a service provider, arranges for private investors to fund the services and monitors progress. If the agreed-upon outcome is achieved, the government reimburses the intermediary (who pays investors) for his or her expenses, plus a return based on the program’s success. If the outcome is not achieved, the government does not pay.

On the topic of early childhood and primary education, the agenda seeks to improve early childhood development programs by facilitating collaboration and coordination among existing programs, eliminating those programs deemed duplicative, and expand school choice and support of charter schools. It also calls for improvements to career and technical education.

The plan calls for changes to the higher education system  including enhancing the timing and content of financial aid counselling , modernizing the Pell Grant system, streamlining financial aid programs, repealing unnecessary data reporting requirements and allowing institutions to deliver higher education in more creative, cost-cutting ways.

Nutrition, Retirement and Credit

Nutrition for students and working families is also addressed. Recommendations for these programs include seeking out better ways to run school nutrition programs, increased flexibility to state and local entities and empowering states to streamline administration and simplify operations.

The plan includes building retirement security through the private retirement system. The policy recommendations for this include preventing a taxpayer bailout of the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), rejecting the Department of Labor regulations on financial advisors, and eliminating bureaucratic restrictions that prevent small businesses from banding together to offer retirement plans.

Finally, on the issue of access to banking and credit services, the plan proposes streamlining or eliminating “unnecessarily burdensome” regulations that the Dodd Frank Act placed on community banks and credit unions. It also condemns efforts by Washington to regulate short-term credit products and services, specifically calling out the restrictions placed on small-dollar lenders.

The rest of the “Better Way” agenda focuses on the issues of national security, the economy, constitutional liberties, health care and tax reform. In the coming weeks, we will be highlighting some of those topics. The entire agenda can be found here.