Paul Ryan is in the news for lying again, and Wonkette helped break the story, go us! The Washington Post cited yr Editrix's post about a comment on this TPM story that noted how Paul Ryan's tale of a young boy who preferred the brown-bagged love of his parents to the hard cheese of socialism was suspiciously similar to one in this book, and good work if you followed all that. WaPo's Glenn Kessler gave Ryan's rotten fable four Pinocchios, because Paul Ryan is a small puppet child who talks to crickets, and also because he lies a lot.


But honestly, we don't care too much that Paul Ryan is lying. It's Paul Ryan, after all. No, we care a lot more that he has a habit of calling our parents losers. His recent quattro pinocchio is a great example.

“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 once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. 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. This is what the left does not understand.”

It's sad but not surprising that Paul Ryan's work in Congress is apparently informed by half-remembered, third-hand stories. What's surprising is how obsessed he is with this weird notion that he's going to force poor parents to love their kids more, or be more responsible, or be less poor, by rescinding government benefits that make them materially less poor. Like, a lot of conservative politicians talk like this because it's what they're supposed to say, but Ryan just might be so clueless that he really believes it.

Remember, he is not talking about "fraud" here. That's the old line -- that Republicans just want to stop the Cadillac-driving welfare queens. Maybe too many people were asking why "stopping fraud" meant simply cutting everyone's benefits. The new fig leaf is self-reliance, of course. The theory is that poor people lose the motivation to work because the government tries to prevent them from starving and dying from treatable illnesses. It really amazes us every time we type it out like that, but that's a fair description of a thing many conservatives believe -- that people stop wanting to be rich the moment their most basic needs are met.

But Paul Ryan goes even further than this! Let's read this part again:

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. This is what the left does not understand.

And here is what you don't understand, Paul Ryan: That kid, with the lunch? You are teaching him to hate his parents. Because you hate his parents! Of course you'll say you don't, you want to help them. And maybe you -- the dunce Paul Ryan -- actually do think you are helping them "help themselves" or whatever nonsense. But it's crystal clear that you also regard these parents with contempt. You are literally saying they're lazy, they're dependent, they're "takers," to use Ryan's own term, and they don't love their kids. Now imagine a kid whose parents get food stamps hearing that. "Is it true?" he wonders. "Are my parents bad people?"

I know my dad isn't a bad person. My dad got food stamps after being laid off from US Steel with little to show for his 20 years but two bulging discs in his back. Welfare for my dad meant he could be my dad -- raise me, feed me, take me places without totally wrecking his finances. I didn't think badly of him for accepting help, but Paul Ryan wasn't around yet to teach me otherwise.

Now Paul Ryan would surely say that of course my dad -- who always had a job or was looking for one -- isn't the problem; that he's deserving, one of the good ones. But how can he really believe this when the defining characteristic of every "budget" he's ever proposed in Congress has been the extremity of its cuts to welfare? How can he really believe this when he's suggesting that the government should provide even less help to parents who are already too poor to give their kids lunch?

There are only two possible explanations. Paul Ryan is either the world's most brazen liar who'll say literally anything to conceal his true aims, or he is really dull enough to believe that cutting welfare will cure American laziness and usher in a golden age of prosperity for all. We always try to see the best in people, so we'll assume the latter.

It's fine if Paul Ryan wants to make a career out of credulously repeating foolish lies. Just leave our parents out of it.

There's no good reason not to follow Alex on Twitter.

[WaPo / TPMcbpp.org]

 

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