U.S. Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush speaks at the New Hampshire Forum on Reuters

Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush on Friday proposed an overhaul of the U.S. welfare system that would eliminate what he called failing programs for the poor and send the federal dollars from them to the states to develop their own plans.

Bush, continuing an effort to position himself as the most serious, substantive candidate in the race for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016, laid out his plan ahead of a poverty forum in South Carolina on Saturday.

Bush said decades of federal policy have not solved the vexing problem of how to help generations of Americans mired in poverty.

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"We have spent trillions of dollars on the ‘war on poverty,’ but there are now still more than 46 million Americans living in poverty," he said in a statement laying out his plan.

Bush, a former Florida governor, would take some controversial steps as part of his welfare plan.

He would eliminate the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, formerly called food stamps, housing assistance programs and a cash program called Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.

He would use the money to give so-called "right to rise" grants to the states to let state governments fund programs they develop as the best way to address poverty.

To encourage more Americans on welfare to seek jobs, Bush would include in "Right to Rise" grants work requirements and time limits for able-bodied adults.

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