Paul Ryan’s Plan for Expanding Opportunity

by Melanie Anderson   •  

Last week, Congressman Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced his plan to expand opportunity during a panel discussion at the American Enterprise Institute. His blueprint focuses on criminal justice reform, education, job-training and federal poverty programs.

The highlight of his plan is the creation of Opportunity Grants which would be disseminated by states. He would consolidate up to 11 federal antipoverty programs into a single funding stream. The program would require that: each state spend all its funds on people in need; recipients would have to meet work requirements; states would use at least two service providers to carry out their proposals; and a third party would monitor state progress. Recipients of the program would work with government agencies or approved service providers to develop a plan designed to fit the individual’s needs.

Like most proposals, Congressman Ryan’s plan isn’t perfect and there needs to be more discussion on the details. But we applaud Congressman Ryan for elevating the conversation around opportunity and are intrigued by some of his proposals.

One idea we are excited about in particular is his support for expanding the earned-income tax credit (EITC) by doubling the maximum annual credit for eligible workers to $1,005 and lowering the eligibility age from 25 to 21. Expanding EITC has bipartisan support and a proven record of lifting families out of poverty and is a step heartily endorsed by Opportunity Nation.

Nearly 6 million young adults in the United States are unable to secure a meaningful foothold in either school or work. Twenty percent of them live in poverty, numbers that soared since the Great Recession and have remained stagnant. Such disconnection carries steep costs, diminishing young Americans’ job prospects, earnings and savings well into adulthood. Congressman Ryan and others know we can avoid this outcome by creating more opportunity for our young people. Join the conversation by submitting your comments, ideas and questions to

Melanie Anderson Melanie Anderson is the Director of Government and External Affairs at Opportunity Nation. She directs the campaign’s government relations and policy efforts. Read Melanie's bio.

« Back to Blog

Stay Informed