Today, Senator Mike Lee hosted a roundtable with Utah citizens, experts, government officials, and community activists on the growing crisis of immobility among the poor. The event is a continuation of Sen. Lee's "Let's Talk" series he began in August, taking him around the state to hear directly from Utahns about the critical issues facing the state and the country.
Today's panel, held at the Sutherland Institute, presented an opportunity for those who work in Utah communities to fight poverty to discuss their work with Senator Lee and present ideas for solving the problems they face in promoting upward mobility among the disadvantaged. The roundtable included representatives from Utah Department of Work Force Services, Calvary Baptist Church, Utah Food Bank, 4th Street Clinic, United Way, and Standing Together.
"America's true war on poverty began at the founding of this country," said Senator Lee after the event. "It was our dedication to economic freedom and voluntary civil society that liberated millions of American families, opening up opportunities for the pursuit of happiness never known before or since. In that tradition, it should be government's role today to give struggling Americans greater access to the benefits of free enterprise, the greatest weapon against poverty ever conceived by man."
With Senator Lee, the group discussed changes in federal and state policy to remove barriers that trap people in poverty and make upward mobility all but impossible. Topics included welfare reform, access to quality affordable health care, removing anti-marriage biases in federal policy, ways to help keep families intact, increasing educational opportunities, and Medicaid reform.
"As the family goes, so goes society. We need to focus on the role of the father in the family," said a representative of Standing Together. "It's time that someone in Washington speak about moral issues. Poverty is a moral issue."
"Having federal funds helps, but the regulations that come with those funds do not help the cause. We need flexibility," added an employee of the Department of Work Services.
Senator Lee will continue his "Let's Talk" series this week with meetings on health care, transportation, education and patent reform.