GOP lawmaker opens Pa. tour to study poverty
In what advocates for the poor perceive as puzzling, a Republican lawmaker from Western Pennsylvania has embarked on a statewide tour to examine and discuss poverty.
Rep. Dave Reed, R-Indiana County, chairman of the House Majority Policy Committee, said it was time “to truly re-evaluate government's approach to fighting poverty,” adding that “a discussion on poverty is long overdue.”
All too often, Reed said, “Republicans fail to recognize poverty as a real issue. And Democrats think that throwing more money at issues solves problems.”
Reed, 35, who comes from a working-class background in Homer City, said he has empathy for the poor.
He added that he does not plan to prejudge but to listen, then decide what to recommend to the legislature.
“Dave Reed's a really good guy, and he's really sincere,” said Joe Ostrander, communications director with the Community Action Association of Pennsylvania, which represents statewide poverty organizations. Reed tapped the association, along with several faith-based groups, to help with the tour, which will bring Reed to Philadelphia in September.
Reacting to news of the tour, antipoverty advocates and experts pointed to Republicans' history of cutting programs for the poor and expressed a collective “Huh?”
“We're so pleased that the people who have caused so much stress for the poor are now looking at the stress the poor are under,” said Carol Goertzel, president and CEO of PathWays PA, a nonprofit advocacy group for women and children in Holmes. “It's totally ironic they're doing this.”
Jonathan Stein, an attorney for Philadelphia's Community Legal Services and a leading antipoverty advocate, echoed Goertzel.
He suggested that Reed's “first order of business should be to see what the three years of the Corbett administration has done to worsen poverty in Pennsylvania.”
Stein and others said that together and separately, the GOP-controlled Legislature and the governor have greatly impacted programs affecting the poor by:
• Instituting an asset test for food stamps said to cut down on waste, fraud and abuse, but seen by advocates as punishment to any low-income person who had saved money.
• Cutting the General Assistance program, designed to help the destitute.
• Thwarting efforts to expand statewide Medicaid coverage.
• Being unable to get food stamps, unemployment benefits and energy assistance to qualified people in a timely manner.
• Cutting money to education, which directly affects low-income children.
• Ending adultBasic health insurance, the state's subsidized insurance program for working people.
Julie Zaebst, interim director of the Greater Philadelphia Coalition Against Hunger, said she has mixed feelings about Reed's plan.
“The legislature has dealt blow after blow to low-income people of Pennsylvania,” she said. “Will Reed's work support or undermine these folks as they climb out of a recession?”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Sheriff’s sale delayed for historic Conneaut Lake Park
- Schools closed after state police ambush suspect reportedly sighted nearby
- Sentencing in Johnstown car wash parking lot slaying delayed
- Pennsylvania school performance scores stuck in limbo
- Customers rarely utilize right to cancel a contract
- Attorneys want ‘Kids for Cash’ figure’s windfall frozen
- Supreme Court justices taunt each other over pornographic emails
- Under bill, taxes could rise for workers in Pa.’s distressed cities — except Pittsburgh
- Pennsylvania Senate votes to ban pigeon shoots