House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) argued Thursday that spending hundreds of billions of dollars on federal anti-poverty programs isn't working, and said it's time for the government to fix what's broken rather than launch new programs.
His remarks were made just days after rioting gripped Baltimore, which prompted some Democrats to suggest that even more federal spending is needed to help low-income Americans. Boehner said he believes Democrats aren't looking at the problem the right way.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said federal poverty programs are failing around the nation, and rejected the Democratic answer — more federal spending — to resolve the inequality that has become a factor in riots like those seen in Baltimore this week. AP Photo/Molly Riley
"Again, we believe the answer is more jobs and more opportunity," he told reporters. "Our government spends hundreds of billions of dollars a year on well-intentioned programs designed to help people to get out of poverty. We've been doing this for decades."
"But from what we've seen around the country, it's clear that this approach is not working," he said. "I think folks should be asking the question, what is working, and what isn't? And if they're not working, how can we fix these programs?"
Boehner spoke two days after Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) agreed that the answer to the problem is jobs, but said the government should play a major role in creating those jobs.
"Looking out at the year ahead, the only piece of legislation I see on the agenda that does anything to create jobs is the surface transportation bill," he said. "There is nothing else. Look around. That is not enough."
"We need to do more," Reid said. "It is up to us in this Capitol to create these jobs."