Hudson: It’s immoral how we trap people in poverty

Published 12:06 am Thursday, August 18, 2016

By Josh Bergeron

KANNAPOLIS — The system is “rigged” against people trying to pull themselves out of poverty, said Republican U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson on Wednesday.

Speaking during a poverty roundtable event at the Cabarrus Regional Chamber of Commerce, Hudson, who represents the 8th Congressional District, said Republicans don’t talk enough about poverty. During the roundtable, Hudson promoted the “A Better Way” plan — a policy package introduced by House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The poverty section of “A Better Way” aims to expand work requirements to include housing benefits, encourage work-capable adults receiving federal food assistance to work or prepare for work, tailor benefits to people’s needs and, though a lofty goal, break the cycle of generational poverty.

When describing the plan to the nonprofit groups gathered Wednesday, Hudson briefly focused on the importance of tailoring benefits to individuals.

“With the way it’s stacked now, if you’ve got a single mother working to lift herself out of poverty, as soon as she’s just starting to make it we say, ‘Oh, you’re making too much money and we have to take your childcare away,'” Hudson said. “We drop them right back into it. So, the system is rigged against people getting out of poverty, and to me it’s immoral the way we trap people.”

“A Better Way” would be Congress’ policy agenda if Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump is elected, according to Hudson. If Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is elected, Hudson said the two major parties would work together to craft an agenda.

“There are six major issues we want to address next year, and one of them is poverty,” he said.

Other areas are national security, the economy, the Constitution, health care and taxes.

The largest portion of Wednesday’s event consisted of representatives from nonprofit agencies talking about problems associated with poverty. Those agencies included Hope Haven, Cooperative Christian Ministry, The Boys and Girls Club, Cabarrus Partnership for Children, Salvation Army, and Church of God Children’s Home.

Although Hudson first mentioned it, a number of the local agencies spoke about a need for the federal government to “get out of the way.” Cabarrus County Director Of Human Services Ben Rose, for example, said the process to qualify for food stamps should be two pages instead of “a 2,000-page policy.”

Other participants in the panel tossed around ideas about future policy changes. Incentives for business to hire felons or “giving felons a second chance” was a policy idea Hudson said he hadn’t heard before. He said it sounded like a good idea.

Local control of poverty-related programs was a topic that Hudson and attendees both said they supported.

Another topic discussed included streamlining the nation’s welfare programs. Hudson said there are at least 92 federal welfare programs. Instead, he said there should be one funding stream.

“Instead of having 92 different bureaucracies, 92 different sets of access points, 92 different sets of rules, let’s have one funding stream administered by the federal government but then rely on individual caseworkers in communities working with an individual to provide access to money or programs like job training,” he said.

Wednesday’s roundtable at the Cabarrus County Chamber of Commerce was scheduled to be the penultimate stop in Hudson’s “A Better Way to Fight Poverty” tour. He previously participated in an opioid abuse routable in Fayetteville and visited the Baptist Children’s Home of North Carolina in Cameron.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.