Paul Ryan, Jeb Bush and Wall Street agree: Fight poverty with "love," not government spending

At a glitzy shindig thrown by a right-wing think tank, GOP leaders insist "family" and "friendship" is all you need

Published May 13, 2014 2:59PM (EDT)

Paul Ryan                       (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
Paul Ryan (Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)

Attending an event held in a midtown Manhattan ballroom by the right-wing Manhattan Institute on Monday, Rep. Paul Ryan and former Gov. Jeb Bush told a crowd of conservative benefactors that "love," "friendship," "accountability" and "traditional marriage" were better ways to fight poverty than progressive taxation and government spending.

"[T]he best way to turn from a vicious cycle of despair and learned hopelessness to a virtuous cycle of hope and flourishing is by embracing the attributes of friendship, accountability and love," Ryan said. Manhattan Institute Chairman Paul Singer, a billionaire and prolific GOP donor, celebrated Ryan's remarks and at one point described him as "one of the most thoughtful and resolute members of Congress."

For his part, Bush returned to one of his favorite themes, the necessity of comprehensive immigration reform. "A loving family taking care of their children in a traditional marriage will create the chance to break out of poverty far better, far better than any of the government programs that we can create," Bush declared. According to the Associated Press, he, too, was well-received by the crowd of roughly 750, "dressed in tuxedos and gowns."

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Neither man has declared his 2016 intentions, although a growing number of donors have encouraged Bush to run in the months since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's traffic scandal erupted. Ryan is popular among the donor class as well, although some are skeptical he will trade his increasing influence on Capitol Hill for a presidential bid.

Both men are stoking speculations about their futures, however.

Ryan already has visited early voting states of Iowa and New Hampshire this year. On Tuesday, he was set to attend a fundraising reception hosted by Singer and Woody Johnson, owner of the New York Jets and a national finance chairman for Mitt Romney's last presidential bid.

Bush has intensified his political travel in recent months as well.

He is set to host a Florida fundraiser for Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad later in the month after recently headlining a private reception inside conservative mega-donor Sheldon Adelson's Las Vegas airport hangar.

By Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a former Salon staff writer.

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