Paul Ryan’s Free School Lunch Story Never Actually Happened

You can’t make this stuff up. Or more to the point, right-wingers make this stuff up all the time. They have to, because their ideology is not reality-based.

h/t TPM

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) fired up the audience Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference with an anecdote about what he called the heartlessness of giving out free school lunches — but it turns out that “moving” story never really happened.

Here’s the quote:

“The left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my buddy Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a poor family. And every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. But he told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch—one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids’. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him.

WaPo’s Glenn Kessler fact-checked Ryan’s story, and gave it “four pinocchios.” The story Ryan attributed to Eloise Anderson is actually taken from a book by Laura Schroff, who is in reality a supporter of federal programs for hungry kids such as school lunches and SNAP (aka food stamps).

Debunking this stuff is easy. When a right-winger like Ryan poses a counter-factual argument, such as “poor children would be better off without free school lunches,” it’s always based on a lie.

More info:
A story too good to check: Paul Ryan and the tale of the brown paper bag

Jon Stewart Shreds Paul Ryan’s Free School Lunch Fib (VIDEO)

Conservatives Offer Americans Empty Stomachs and Empty Rhetoric

  1. #1 by Larry Bergan on March 8, 2014 - 12:59 am

    I have to wonder what would be in Paul Ryan’s kid’s sack lunch; pheasant under glass?

  2. #2 by Richard Warnick on March 11, 2014 - 12:43 pm

    UPDATE: Conservatives Offer Americans Empty Stomachs and Empty Rhetoric

    The GOP message: “Let’s cut funding for school lunches so we can give more tax cuts to millionaires and billionaires.”

  3. #3 by Richard Warnick on March 12, 2014 - 3:33 pm

    Paul Ryan Blames Poverty On Lazy ‘Inner City’ Men

    “We have got this tailspin of culture, in our inner cities in particular, of men not working and just generations of men not even thinking about working or learning the value and the culture of work, and so there is a real culture problem here that has to be dealt with,” he said.

    There is a GOP “culture problem” of blaming the victims for economic malfeasance and sabotage. Most anti-poverty programs already include work requirements, particularly long-term unemployment insurance and the Earned Income Tax Credit. But work requirements don’t create jobs in a down economy.

    • #4 by brewski on March 12, 2014 - 3:49 pm

      A 100% effective tax rate on the poor has consequences. It’s called math.

      • #5 by Richard Warnick on March 12, 2014 - 4:28 pm

        So your point is that effective marginal tax rates are keeping Americans from applying for nonexistent jobs?

        The CBO begs to differ (PDF):

        “The income tax system does not make marginal tax rates readily apparent, and complex rules and interactions between the tax and transfer systems tend to further obscure those rates. Moreover, the average taxpayer may not fully understand how benefits are linked to income because of various exemptions and deductions and because of nonfinancial criteria for qualifying for a program. Some researchers posit that taxpayers use their average tax rate (their total taxes divided by their total income), which is typically lower than their marginal tax rate, when making decisions about their level of participation in the workforce.”

        I’ve gleefully posted numerous statements from rich people that indicate they have very little understanding of marginal tax rates. Maybe working Americans are smarter than the rich, or maybe not.

        • #6 by brewski on March 12, 2014 - 10:34 pm

          Actually, the CBO does not beg to differ. From YOUR link:

          “The increase in marginal tax rates that results from
          income and payroll taxes and from the phaseout of such
          means-tested transfers affects people’s decisions about
          work. In particular, when marginal tax rates are high,
          individuals tend to respond to the smaller financial
          gain from working by cutting the number of hours they
          work or by otherwise altering their participation in the

          You are out of your depth.

          • #7 by Richard Warnick on March 13, 2014 - 8:11 am

            First of all, safety-net programs such as unemployment insurance don’t phase out. Payments are cut off a soon as you are offered a job, whether or not you accept the offer.

            Second, you are confusing cause and effect. Low-wage jobs that don’t pay enough to live on are the functional equivalent of no job.

            You’re lucky to have never been unemployed, especially in this economy. A majority of Americans say they consider the country to still be in a recession.

          • #8 by brewski on March 13, 2014 - 9:01 am

            I am? I quoted your CBO link.

          • #9 by Richard Warnick on March 13, 2014 - 10:27 am

            You quoted the CBO out of context. Your favorite trick.

            Look, faux concern for Americans who work for a living fools no one.

            The real issue is that most safety-net programs have excessive restrictions on them. It’s too hard to qualify in the first place, and work requirements can’t be met if you can’t find a job. Unemployment benefits get yanked as soon as you get a job offer, no matter if the job doesn’t pay a living wage.

            Here’s a question for you. The President wants to make the Earned Income Tax Credit available to working Americans who don’t have any children. What do you say – yes or no?

          • #10 by brewski on March 13, 2014 - 10:45 am

            No out of context. Straight quote. You just don’t like it.

            As has been pointed out we need giant simplification for all of our safety net programs. We have unemployment insurance, WIC, SNAP, EITC, 47 different job training programs, Obamacare subsidies, mortgage subsidies, heating subsidies, phone subsidies, minimum wage, etc etc etc.

            Simplifying and rationalizing the entire laundry list is a good idea. Replacing all of that with a large EITC is one way to go. In fact Milton Friedman suggested something like this 40 years ago. But he must be wrong since you don’t like him.

          • #11 by Richard Warnick on March 13, 2014 - 2:19 pm

            The EITC doesn’t help anyone who’s unemployed, or people who have jobs but no children. It’s basically a subsidy for low-wage employers, which is why right-wingers always want to try and substitute it for a decent minimum wage.

            But yeah, making safety net programs more user-friendly is a good idea. The trend has been in the opposite direction.

          • #12 by brewski on March 13, 2014 - 3:05 pm

            The current EITC is structured the way you said. It does not have to be. That is the way your people designed it.

            I understand how it can be viewed as a subsidy for employers instead of those employers paying a decent wage. Believe it or not mathematically that is pretty much true. So are immigrants, guest worker programs, season worker programs, H1B programs and all that are exactly the same. They all allow employers to find people who will work for less. I was at Lagoon last summer and every other kid I ran across working there was Russian or Ukrainian or something. Why does Lagoon get a bunch of Russians and not kids from Farmington? Because they are cheap. Snowbird and Park City are also full of Perivians and Philippinos who come here (some legally and some not legally) to work as housekeepers and such. Why does Snowbird hire them? Because they are cheap.

            While you can not like the EITC is does have one really big advantage and that is that it does not have a downward sloping demand curve. The EITC will not force non-profit family welfare agencies and adoption agencies to lay counselors off. The minimum wage does and Obamacare mandates do. So you can criticize the EITC but the bottom line is that compared to other tools, it is less bad. It can be simplified to help people without children as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the entire safety net system.

          • #13 by Richard Warnick on March 13, 2014 - 3:31 pm

            You claim that federal minimum wage increases cause workers to get laid off. But the evidence is nonexistent.

          • #14 by brewski on March 14, 2014 - 10:15 am

            Yes it is existent.


            “the oft-stated assertion that the new minimum wage
            research fails to support the conclusion that the minimum wage reduces
            the employment of low-skilled workers is clearly incorrect….

            Moreover, when researchers focus on the least-skilled groups
            most likely to be adversely affected by minimum wages, the evidence
            for disemployment effects seems especially strong.”

          • #15 by Richard Warnick on March 14, 2014 - 11:35 am

            You like data. Here it is.

            Unemployment rates do fluctuate a good deal, as they depend on macro conditions in the economy. But it is hard to see any obvious jump in unemployment rates in the months following the sporadic increases in the real minimum wage we have had over the last more than 60 years.

            It is also worth noting that due to the politics of the minimum wage, and the resistance of conservatives and businessmen to higher rates, increases in the minimum wage have been generally infrequent and then relatively large in percentage terms. This thus provides good material for a test of whether increases in the minimum wage lead quickly to jumps in the unemployment rate (particularly of the young). Yet one does not see it.

            No correlation between federal minimum wage and unemployment rates. None.

          • #16 by brewski on March 14, 2014 - 12:08 pm

            You said there was no evidence. I gave you evidence. It is factually untrue to say there is no evidence when I just gave you some. The best you can say is that the issue is unclear. If you say more than that then you are dishonest. That is your choice.

          • #17 by Richard Warnick on March 14, 2014 - 1:18 pm

            The paper you linked to does not present any evidence that anyone ever got laid off due to an increase in the federal minimum wage. The authors only talk about “disemployment effects” that lag behind minimum wage raises. And they never address the ethics of paying employees less than a living wage and expecting U.S. taxpayers to make up the difference!

            This issue looks pretty clear to me. Almost half of the states already have a minimum wage that’s higher than the federal minimum wage. There is no reason to believe that raising the fed minimum to $10.10 will have any effect on unemployment.

            I’m really tired of right-wingers advocating screwing over working Americans — while claiming it’s for their own good. The federal minimum wage is too low, let’s raise it and index it to inflation. If Republicans don’t support a minimum wage increase, it’s because they are committed to economic sabotage as long as the Obama administration is in office.

          • #18 by brewski on March 14, 2014 - 1:43 pm

            If you have already made up up your mind and refuse to consider anything that contradicts your prejudicial conclusion, then why bother?
            Your arguments are third-grader. “You didn’t see me take the cookie so therefore I must not have taken it even though the cookie is gone and I have crumbs all over my shirt”.
            When you decide to be a grown up, let me know.

          • #19 by Richard Warnick on March 14, 2014 - 2:50 pm

            Here’s a challenge for you. Find a news article where an employer says, “I had to fire some of my workers because I couldn’t afford to pay them the federal minimum wage,” or words to that effect.

            Keep looking as long as you have to.

          • #20 by brewski on March 15, 2014 - 3:17 pm

            I proved you to be factually wrong one in this string and you won’t admit it. Now you are asking me for another on of your hurdles for no reason? You are a tool.

          • #21 by Richard Warnick on March 16, 2014 - 11:17 am

            You quoted the CBO out of context – not for the first time. Sure, in theory it’s possible to have a minimum wage that’s so high it will lead to unemployment – but that never happens!

            I know you can’t find an example of an employer who had to lay off workers because the federal minimum wage is too much to pay them. Not in the real world.

          • #22 by brewski on March 16, 2014 - 2:16 pm

            I did not quote the CBO “out of context.” The quote is entirely within context. The CBO makes that statement as completely stand alone quote which exists as a fact in its own right, and they state it as such. Trying to dismiss it as being “out of context” only further undermines your blind prejudicial partisan nutty emotional feelings on this and every subject. So you are not serious in any way.

            Your nutty demand for a newspaper article is even more looney. I make business decisions every day without putting them in the newspaper. But your looney request just illustrates that you live in a world of the media, spin, ideology and not actual reality. Actual reality does not exist in newspaper stories about daily business decisions. Your demand just illustrates how departed from reality you are. Stop living in a world of publicists, talking point, spin and memes, and start living in the world of reality and math.

          • #23 by Richard Warnick on March 16, 2014 - 7:19 pm

            You know and I know that the CBO reports often give a nod to right-wing economic theories just so nobody can say they didn’t take them into account. That doesn’t mean the right-wing economic theories predict reality.

            It’s true that employers who lay off workers often don’t give the real reason, for example blaming “Obamacare” when it’s a business decision they might have made in any case. But I have never heard of anybody saying they are laying off because of a minimum wage raise. That would be ludicrous.

          • #24 by brewski on March 16, 2014 - 8:10 pm

            In six years of studying economics at two different universities, including once under a Nobel Laureate, not once did I ever hear the phrase “right wing economic theories”. So I have no idea what you are talking about. The fact that you use such expressions tells me you are not a serious thinker.

          • #25 by brewski on March 16, 2014 - 8:19 pm

            You are also creating this false phenomenon of employers laying off workers specifically because of a minimum wage law. That isn’t how the world works and that is not how decisions are made. Decisions are made by existing companies, and by ones that do not exist yet but are being proposed, when they forecast their revenues and expenses and at some point their revenues need to exceed their expenses, on an after tax basis, and on a risk adjusted basis, so that the owners’ or investors’ return on investment is sufficient enough to induce them to go ahead. Expenses include all kinds of things including direct wages, plus payroll taxes, plus employee benefits, plus workers comp, etc. So all of these costs are real costs. It should also be understood that the profit margin of some businesses are incredibly small. Wal Mart’s profit margin is 3.6%. So even a small increase in wages, taxes, benefits, etc. can make the difference between sufficient profit or not. So if you mandate that some cost must go up by law, then on the margin the reality is that some people will lose their jobs, or some people who don’t have jobs in the first place won’t get hired because the new business is not started. It is difficult to identify businesses that never existed and could have existed if it were not for a mandated increase in costs. And employers who trim their least productive employees for the same reason don’t issue press releases and call their publicists and spinmeisters about it. It just happens as part of everyday business. It is math, which you just don’t get and can’t get.

          • #26 by cav on March 16, 2014 - 9:36 pm

            When an operation such as Wal-Mart can’t get by without reliance on social safety nets (SNAP, etc), they aren’t really utilizing a successful, free, market business plan. They are conning the larger society.

            And Hillary’s roll as one of their board for such a long time only brings her credentials into question.

          • #27 by brewski on March 16, 2014 - 9:54 pm

            My next door neighbor works for Wal Mart. She is old, slow, uneducated and unskilled. If you make hiring her expensive then she would be the first to go because she is relatively unproductive. You can dislike Wal Mart all you like, but it does not change the fact that some people are very unskilled and very unproductive. Pricing them out of a job would solve no problems and accomplish nothing other than make lefties feel good.

          • #28 by cav on March 16, 2014 - 11:13 pm

            It’s not about how ‘lefties’ feel. It’s about saying you’re one thing when you’re really something else. If a competing corporation is really a government / corporate hybrid disguised as a ‘free-market’ entity, the pretense of having some sort of successful business operation that somehow isn’t surreptitiously tapping into the safety nets and granting its top tear and share-holders perks and profits as though they were not, is highly suspect and should be unveiled.

            The chips may fall somewhere besides in the Douglas McMillon and Walton pockets.

          • #29 by brewski on March 17, 2014 - 3:12 am

            How is it that the fawning lefty voters and lefty media never bring up the Hillary/Wal Mart connection and never ask her about it the way, say, they grilled Romney about his business record?

          • #30 by Richard Warnick on March 17, 2014 - 7:53 am

            brewski– You yourself postulated what you now call the “false phenomenon of employers laying off workers specifically because of a minimum wage law.” You are right to abandon that contention, because it doesn’t happen.

            Also, nobody is priced out of a job by the federal minimum wage because it’s, well, minimal.

          • #31 by brewski on March 17, 2014 - 8:43 am

            You are incredibly daft and willfully ignorant.

          • #32 by cav on March 17, 2014 - 8:48 am

            I’d suggest it’s more about how teabagging republican puppets feel. (Or don’t feel, as that would require having a heart, which they clearly are not equipped with).

            …met where one is so often challenged.

          • #33 by cav on March 17, 2014 - 9:01 am


        • #34 by brewski on March 17, 2014 - 8:51 am

          Explain what you mean, please.

          • #35 by cav on March 17, 2014 - 9:02 am

            I find it difficult to continue chats when one party cannot drop their derogation. A clear indication of their level of ‘respect’ (not). I did precisely what you so often do, but without addressing any other points whatsoever, because, well, what’s the point? I’d like to take this all elsewhere. While we blather on the blogs, the crimers, not similarly focused, are running the show – either into their own pockets or over the cliff. Not where I wish my energy to go. Thank you very much.

          • #36 by cav on March 17, 2014 - 9:26 am

            The inability to recognize one’s own bias leads people to think that others are the ones who are biased.

          • #37 by brewski on March 17, 2014 - 12:43 pm

            I am happy to respect people who study data, evaluate data and have spent some time learning about the topic at hand. I have gone out of my way to provide credible sources and objective data. I don’t respect people who have their feelings and the data be damned and then ask for data, and then dismiss it out of hand when they get it. So who is the biased one?

    • #38 by Richard Warnick on March 12, 2014 - 9:51 pm

      Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee called Ryan’s comments “a thinly veiled racial attack [that] cannot be tolerated.”

      “Let’s be clear,” Lee’s statement continues, “when Mr. Ryan says ‘inner city,’ when he says, ‘culture,’ these are simply code words for what he really means: ‘black.’” Lee went on to describe Ryan’s remarks as “not only statistically inaccurate, but deeply offensive.”

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