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Washington Beat: GOP, Democrats Take Different Approaches at Conference on Poverty

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Democrats and Republicans both say they want to tackle poverty, but their approaches couldn't be more different. Washington bureau reporter Michael Scotto filed the following report.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — On one side was Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

"I've never met a lazy child who's hungry," she said.

On the other was Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

"Poverty is not just some form of deprivation. It is a form of isolation," he said.

Ryan and Gillibrand offered competing visions during separate speeches at a Brookings Institution conference on poverty.

Gillibrand said part of the solution is legislation she has proposed that would give working mothers an extra hand.

"If you want to tap into the full potential of your workforce, meaning women who are typically the primary caregivers for both children and aging parents, you need to create a more family-friendly workplace policy," Gillibrand said.

Gillibrand's focus on government was contrasted hours later when Ryan, who didn't outline any specifics, said that Capitol Hill lawmakers were standing in the way of solving poverty.

"Our goal should be to re-integrate the poor into our communities, but Washington is walling them up as if they're in some massive quarantine," said Ryan.

The conversations come as the country marks the 50th anniversary since the start of the War on Poverty and as Republicans try to soften their image and reach out to those who are struggling to make ends meet.

According to Brookings, children raised in the poorest households have just a 7 percent chance of making it to the top. Experts say statistics like that are putting pressure on Republicans to get in on the conversation.

"I think that Republicans are more aware than they used to be that one of the things that people didn't like in the last presidential campaign is the fact that Republicans seemed to have a tin ear," said Isabel Sawhill of the Brookings Institution.

The challenge, however, will be whether listening lead to action. ClientIP:, UserAgent: CCBot/2.0 ( Profile: TWCSAMLSP