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Portman Says Jobs Aren't Enough in Fighting Poverty

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Ohio’s Sen. Rob Portman gave a nod to his former boss, President George W. Bush, in his anti-poverty speech to the American Enterprise Institute on Tuesday. But instead of Bush’s “compassionate conservatism,” Portman is pushing for what he calls “constructive conservatism.” For Ohio Public Radio, WKSU’s M.L. Schultze has more.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 10:48 am

Speaking to a think-tank of conservatives, Ohio’s Republican senator touted the need to create jobs as a primary way to fight poverty and a growing income gap. Portman called for tax code, trade policy and regulatory changes.

“But I think we also have to understand that while they are necessary, they are not sufficient," Portman said. "Even in good economic times, people are going to be falling through the cracks. Someone who’s in the clutches of drug addiction, who’s been in and out of prison, who’s dropped out of school and has no real skills. You can create all the jobs in the world, and it’s not going to help that person. We can get this economy moving again, we can see the stock market go to record levels … we can see the unemployment rate drop. But too many people will still be left behind.”

Portman was a sponsor of the Drug-Free Communities Act and says the solution rest not with federally run wars on drugs and poverty, but with community- and state-run “evidence-based” models that fight drug addiction and prison recidivism.

Portman opposes a minimum wage hike, though he supports a minimum wage indexed to inflation.

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