Our anti-poverty infrastructure is actually much more effective than many people claim, including, as Bob Greenstein points out, Paul Ryan himself. Still, one is of course always open to ideas to improve its functioning and efficiency. But as I stress in my piece (second link above), this “throw it to the states” idea is by no means an obvious solution.
We’ll see Ryan’s details on this point tomorrow, but turning the support of federal programs over to the states through block grants can and has been a way to kill their essential counter-cyclicality. The figure shows the trajectory of SNAP (food stamp) and TANF cases over the recent recession, along with unemployment. Guess which of those two safety net programs was previously changed from a federally administered program to a state-based block grant?