Study of poverty a worthy effort

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Apparently you can irritate a lot of folks in the Pennsylvania Legislature just by announcing that you want to delve into the issue of poverty in the Keystone State.


There’s certainly been a mixed reaction to the move by state Rep. Dave Reed, an Indiana County Republican and chairman of the House Majority Policy Committee, to conduct his own study of how best to help the state’s less fortunate.


According to a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report, Reed intends to “assess government’s role in fighting poverty and ... cross the state to learn what poverty looks like in urban, suburban and rural settings.”


That sounds like a worthy pursuit, but as the Post-Gazette notes, Reed has taken shots from Democrats, advocates for the needy and even from some in his own party.


Democrats have been quick to suggest that Reed first look at what his fellow Republican, Gov. Tom Corbett, has done to the poor, including cutting health care for low-income state residents, making it more difficult to qualify for food stamps and refusing to allow an expansion of Medicaid. They’re also rapping Reed’s own welfare reform proposals of a couple of a years ago that critics contend would throw up even more barriers for poor people who are seeking help.


While some in his party have rallied to support Reed’s latest efforts, that backing has not been universal. Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, a Butler County lawmaker known mostly for spewing imbecilic invective, took Reed to task for telling the P-G that “Republicans fail to recognize poverty as a real problem. And Democrats think that throwing more money at issues resolves problems.”


While Reed’s quote is no doubt too simplistic – there are Republicans who do want to help the needy, and there are Democrats who prefer a fiscally conservative approach – his efforts certainly don’t deserve a reproach from the likes of Metcalfe, a buffoon who once said that providing money for public transit amounts to “subsidizing a minority of our population’s bus fare, which is just more welfare.”


As one unnamed Republican lawmaker put it in a recent Capitolwire story, “Metcalfe is an angry man who is out of touch with reality.”


The reality is that there are millions of needy people in Pennsylvania, and Reed should be given the benefit of the doubt from members of both political parties if he can, in any way, identify measures that can be taken to help those who are in need, and do so in the most efficient, cost-effective manner.


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