Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Wednesday, March 5th, 2014.


Lyin’ Ryan

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Obama Administration

The House Budget Committee has released a “report” called The War on Poverty: Fifty Years Later. The report tries to argue that people are poor because of social welfare programs and proposes to “help” them by gutting the programs. Paul Ryan was behind this, of course.

It didn’t take long for scholars whose work was cited in the report to weigh in.

several economists and social scientists contacted on Monday had reactions ranging from bemusement to anger at Ryan’s report, claiming that he either misunderstood or misrepresented their research.

In short, Ryan consistently edited out data that didn’t support his conclusions and sometimes just plain misstated what the scholars he cited had concluded.

Ryan wants us to believe he’s “helping” the poor by shredding the safety net so that they don’t become dependent or complacent. Paul Krugman reveals what a crock that is.

OK, do you notice the assumption here? It is that reduced incentives to work mean reduced social mobility. Is there any reason to believe this as a general proposition?

Now, as it happens the best available research suggests that the programs Ryan most wants to slash — Medicaid and food stamps — don’t even have large negative effects on work effort. . . .

. . .In fact, the evidence suggests that welfare-state programs enhance social mobility, thanks to little things like children of the poor having adequate nutrition and medical care. And conversely,of course, when such programs are absent or inadequate, the poor find themselves in a trap they often can’t escape, not because they lack the incentive, but because they lack the resources.

I mean, think about it: Do you really believe that making conditions harsh enough that poor women must work while pregnant or while they still have young children actually makes it more likely that those children will succeed in life?

Of course, the point is not to help the poor but to punish them. Obviously, if people are poor, it must be because they deserve it.

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