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Specifically, federal funds are often restricted to grantees with a certain level of education or certification.
"I don't have a Ph.D, but I went to the school of hard knocks. I take the Ph.D with me to Giblin Courts at 12 o'clock midnight, and we'll see whose credentials look better there," Ortiz said.
Rules against funding religious organizations also get in the way, he said.
Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.,), a leading progressive in Congress, speaks about the politics of poverty more naturally because it has long been a topic of the political conversation on the left.
"It's one thing to talk about poverty in the abstract, like the study group does, and talk about poverty in the reality. And there's a certain amount of hypocrisy, my friend, that when you look at the Ryan budget that's been adopted by the Republican Party and by this caucus here in the House, that does more to decimate opportunities to bring people out of poverty than any one instrument that we have going," he said, referring to the budget introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.), the GOP vice presidential nominee.
Grijalva said Congressional liberals have sought to drive a discussion on the poor and that its near-absence from the presidential campaign was despite those efforts.
"We've done that over and over. I don't think we have the cache, like the Republican Study Committee, to bring all of you around. We see that as a critical issue. The fact that it hasn't been embraced entirely by everyone is not for lack of effort," he said.