Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). (Rick Wilking/Reuters)

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Sunday defended his new plan to overhaul the nation's social safety net by giving states greater control over how they spend federal anti-poverty funds, saying the current system is broken.

"The federal government’s approach has ended up maintaining poverty, managing poverty," Ryan said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "In many ways, it has disincentivized people from going to work."

Ryan's plan would consolidate 11 safety-net programs such as food stamps and housing vouchers into a single block grant for states, with state governments working with local officials, nonprofits and faith-based groups to distribute the money. There would be strict accountability standards.

"We don’t want to have a poverty management system that simply perpetuates poverty," Ryan said. "We want to get at the root causes of poverty, to get people out of poverty."