2014-01-09T105124Z_1_CBREA080U5V00_RTROPTP_2_BRITAIN

In an election year, Republicans join the debate on poverty

Rubio drinks as he prepares to answer questions after delivering a speech at Chatham House in LondonBy Caren Bohan WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Republicans on Wednesday seized on the 50th anniversary of the “War on Poverty” to attack long-cherished Democratic social programs and roll out their own alternatives for fighting income inequality. Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a potential 2016 White House contender, stood in the Lyndon B. Johnson room of the U.S. Capitol to criticize what he said were flawed Democratic big-government solutions dating back to Johnson’s presidential tenure. Johnson declared an “unconditional war on poverty” in his 1964 State of the Union speech. Rubio offered ideas such as shifting responsibility for many federal benefit programs to the states and providing a new form of federal aid, “wage enhancement,” to low-income wage-earners designed to ensure that they make more money working than they might from receiving unemployment benefits.

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