Robert Reich 'Impressed' by Rep. Paul Ryan's Poverty Plan

Donna Brazile, Rep. Tom Cole, CNN's Crossfire co-host S.E. Cupp, and former Labor secretary Robert Reich on the "This Week" powerhouse roundtable.
5:45 | 07/27/14

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Transcript for Robert Reich 'Impressed' by Rep. Paul Ryan's Poverty Plan
"The roundtable" now. Democratic strategist donna Brazile. Oklahoma congressman Tom Cole. Cnn "Crossfire" columnist S.E. Cupp. And author Robert Reich. We're at the 100-day mark before the midterm elections. This is when all the negative advertising comes out in force. This week, Rand Paul went to the national urban league talking about republicans appealing to african-american voters. And Paul Ryan saying the republicans need an anti-poverty plan. What's going on? Well, first of all, they read the autopsy report and decided they didn't want to be part of the walking dead in terms of future elections. Rand Paul -- senator Paul is trying to have a different conversation with african-american voters. He's making a serious effort. He wants to talk about economic development in poor inner city areas. Talk about schools. And clearly, he wants to talk about this mandatory sentencing. He wants to talk about restoring the right to vote for ex-felons, convicted of nonviolent crime. You sound like you're about to jump on the band wagon. Sounds like I have talked to Rand Paul. I've seen him on CNN just about every day. I think these conversations should be had. I'm glad there's a republican willing to sit down with senator Cory booker, senator Tim Scott. Who happens to be a republican. Sit down with the attorney general of the United States. These are serious issues. They need to be resolved. We don't need a partisan solution. Now, on Paul Ryan, I think it's interesting he's trying to come up with a big plan to reduce poverty in America. Part of it is expanding the earned income tax credit. A good thing. Parts of it about consolidating programs into a block grant, I don't know if that's so good. But, congressman Cole, we are not going to see african-americans a big part of the republican coalition? It will not grow dramatically overnight. There are millions of conservative african-americans. I mean, Tim Scott, J.C. Watts. My -- T.W. Shannon who just made a ris for the senate in Oklahoma. But only one in the entire congress. Well, again, there are millions of conservatives. We haven't done a good job as a party reaching into the communities. I appreciate what senator Paul and congressman Ryan are doing. I think this is extraordinarily important. It's important to note they're doing it in ways that are pretty consistent with republican core principles. If you look at the Ryan plan, it's based on federalism and personal responsibility. They're big elements of it. It's a step in the right direction. Now, Robert, you're not a Paul Ryan guy. I mean you have been about as critical of him as anybody. But I've seen, you think that this poverty plan is a serious one. I think it's a serious one. I was impressed. Paul Ryan, who has been cutting programs for the poor left and right or at least trying to do that for several years now, awarding tax breaks to the rich. Suddenly, he's had a conversion of some sort. He's now coming out with a plan that is actually a very interesting plan. Not only does it expand the earned income tax credit. Which is the most important anti-poverty policy we have now in the federal government. He extends it, expands it. Provides guidance to the states in ter people go forward. It is not exactly a block grant. There are no cuts to poverty programs. This is something that is very new and different from the republican party. I think it deserves a careful look by democrats. Yeah, you know, I'll take issue a little bit,with your classifying this as under usual for republicans. Paul Ryan has been talking about poverty for years. Maybe not in the way democrats have liked. But now he's putting out a specific anti-poverty plan. He's put out plans and proposals before. This is a serious plan. I'm glad to see liberals like Robert taking it seriously. I'm hoping democrats will take it seriously. Because for all the talk recently about poverty, poverty has risen under this president over the past six years. Income inequality has widened. I would like to see democrats taking this opportunity to say, applaud you, Paul Ryan. Let's work together to make this proposal a reality. Poverty is a serious problem. Paul Ryan's already proven with patty Murray he can work across the aisle. It's time for democrats to prove they want to work with him, too. We hear a lot of sound bites. Just the substance. I think what attracts not just liberals or Progressives or anyone else is when you have substance on the table. Where you can actually look at a plan and see how it helps people. What was missing in the plan, if we want the talk about the real stew there, he didn't talk about raising the minimum wage. That will also help a generation of Americans out of poverty as well. Raising the minimum wage is not going to solve poverty. And if you want to talk about talking points, donna, that's all we have heard from democrats. What we see as a rule is a defense of everything we did in the 1960s. There is not a lot of new thinking on the democratic side. I hope this sparks that. I think this could be the beginning of a real national dialogue. We get our friends on the other side to think, hey, some of these programs don't work. We put a lot of money into them. Maybe there's a better approach. A real issue here, we go democrat, republican, democrat, republican, in this town, it's all about conflict. I think the American people want some of these problems solved. And I think that the Paul Ryan plan, it is not perfect in every way. I agree completely with donna. But it's a beginning point. We have to take a quick break.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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