Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush is calling for an end to the federal food stamp program as part of a proposed revamp of the nation's welfare system.
Bush would end the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, generally known as food stamps, and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. Instead, state governments would be able to apply for new federal "Right to Rise" grants to pay for programs launched to assist lower-income residents.
"I know that giving states more flexibility will open the door for transformative ideas to eliminate poverty and increase opportunity," Bush wrote in a document outlining his plan released Friday morning.
Bush, a former Florida governor, unveiled the plan ahead of an appearance at an anti-poverty forum being held Saturday in South Carolina. House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.), who has tried for years to overhaul federal anti-poverty programs, will appear at the Kemp Forum -- named for Jack Kemp, the former GOP congressman and 1996 vice presidential candidate who was a mentor to Ryan and inspired the speaker's own work on fiscal and entitlement reform.
Ryan and congressional Republicans have pushed for reduced funding or the elimination of certain federal welfare programs like SNAP for the last several years, with mixed success.
Bush's "Right to Rise" grants take their name from a super PAC he helped launch last year to help his presidential campaign. On the campaign trail, he has said that improving Americans' "right to rise" through the economic ranks is a central part of his political work.
"We have spent trillions of dollars on the ‘War on Poverty,’ but there are now still more than 46 million Americans living in poverty," he wrote in the document. "Economic mobility is also far too low." He added later, "The current broken system not only fails those on welfare, but it actually encourages fraud, misuse and abuse."
Bush also would expand the Earned Income Tax Credit for childless workers and younger workers. But the Internal Revenue Service would be required to implement a more rigorous screening process to check an applicant's income in hopes of avoiding fraud.
As he has done with other recent policy proposals, Bush also called for stronger families to help cure the country's societal ills.
"Marriage matters when it comes to reducing poverty and increasing opportunity," he wrote. "Children raised in married, intact families do better than children raised in single parent families on a whole host of measures, including graduation rates, criminal justice involvement and earnings as adults. But too often in discussions of poverty, this vital issue is left out of the discussion. It won’t be in my administration."
In a similar policy rollout this week, Bush called for stronger parenting to help eradicate drug addiction.
Bush is scheduled to hold campaign events across South Carolina on Friday and Saturday in addition to attending the Kemp Forum. He's scheduled to hold a fundraiser Monday in Miami before traveling to Iowa for two days of campaign events ahead of the next Republican presidential debate in Charleston, S.C., next Thursday.