Fine, I admit it, you caught us red-handed -- the Republican Party is the party of the "rich."

More specifically and accurately, though, we are the party of those who aspire to be everything their dreams will allow. We want nothing more than a nation of prosperous people who live happy, productive, and dignified lives with long-term financial security. It is from that perspective that Republicans are fighting for all people so they can build better lives for themselves and their families.

The House Budget Committee, on which I serve, has held a series of hearings regarding the "War on Poverty," to find out why it has all but failed, and to determine a better way forward, so that those who live in poverty can build better lives for themselves. Today, the committee continues this discussion as we focus on the best ways to help families defeat poverty.

During a recent hearing called "Lessons from the Frontlines," we were honored to hear from a panel of witnesses who have made it their life work to confront poverty.

As much as my viewpoint differs from some of my of Budget Committee colleagues, our witnesses would also have differing views.

But as John Adams once said, "Facts are stubborn things," and there are facts no one at the hearing can dispute. Not in dispute is the $800 billion of hard-earned money confiscated annually from American taxpayers to spend on nearly 100 federal programs designed to fight poverty. To date, we have spent $20 trillion on the War on Poverty. $20 trillion.

Also not in dispute are the results of those federal efforts: 46.5 million people living in poverty today, the highest in a generation, and a record number of those living in deep poverty. People in deep poverty are so far from climbing the upward-mobility ladder that they cannot even see the bottom rung. It's time for us to face the truth head on -- we have messed up a big thing very badly, as any federal bureaucracy or elitist idea is predisposed to do.

But there is hope. The testimonies of Bob Woodson, president of the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise, and Bishop Shirley Holloway of the House of Help/City of Hope ministry, highlighted the winning tactics to win this "war."

Their testimony affirmed that people and communities, those who know their neighbors best, are best equipped to help the less fortunate. We know that the relationships these organizations can build, and the love that flows from them, are the keys to success in transforming lives.

Take, for instance, my recent visit to the Kokomo Rescue Mission in Kokomo, Ind., where I witnessed these efforts firsthand. I was not surprised to see Hoosiers helping their neighbors to better their situation and overcome struggles. In the last year, the mission has served nearly 1,000 of its neighbors, and helps 250 people each day. And it does so with a focus on breaking the cycle of dependency that has trapped so many since the War on Poverty began. They succeed because people want to know that those offering help actually care about them, as opposed to being a number in a system. This is what I mean by "love."

If we are truly to win the "war," we must empower, commend, and emulate the work of the Kokomo Rescue Mission, and that of people like Mr. Woodson and Bishop Holloway. The federal government is simply unequipped and too far removed to take care of these matters. The government cannot love a neighbor, and that is why it has failed to solve the problem of poverty.



Todd Rokita represents Indiana's 4th Congressional District and is a member of the House Budget Committee.