(CNN) - On the heels of the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Johnson’s call for an "all-out war on human poverty," Rep. Paul Ryan said efforts to reduce poverty should happen outside think tanks in Washington, and instead in the communities where the fight is succeeding.
The Wisconsin Republican said he would give the United States a "failing grade" in efforts to curb poverty since Johnson's declaration five decades ago.
"We should have done better on this. We can do better than this," Ryan said in an interview with "NBC Nightly News" anchor Brian Williams in Washington.
"What we should do is not sit in our think tanks in Washington and say, ‘Oh, it's this program’ or money here or money there. Let's talk to the people who are actually fighting poverty successfully and see what we can do to support them."
Ryan, considered a likely 2016 presidential candidate, said "If we do these cookie-cutter, one-size-fits-all approaches here in Washington, we'll miss out."
The 2012 vice presidential running mate and chair of the House Budget Committee said the nation's approach needs to be rethought and we need to stop "quarantining the poor."
"What we have learned is that this isn't as much about deprivation. It's about isolation. And in many ways our strategies have isolated the poor from the rest of society. We need to reinvigorate and reintegrate the poor into our communities," he said, adding that citizens just paying taxes and expecting government to take care of the issue doesn't work.
The government provides a safety net, Ryan said, which is important for income support, but federal programs have also frustrated community efforts to combat poverty on a local level.
"We keep dumping money into programs that we know don't work and that means we are not funding ideas that do," he said, pushing for education and job training.