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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Paul Ryan’s Lunch Bag Lie

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Until his fundamental dishonesty was exposed in a national campaign, Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan had an undeserved reputation among gullible members of the media as a bright, young Republican “thinker” with bold economic ideas.

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize-winning economist, had Ryan’s number from the beginning, describing him as a flimflam man with only one economic idea, which was completely wrong—destroy government programs designed to help people in need and give the money to the wealthy.

Ryan was at it again recently telling a touching, falsified story to the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), the national gathering of mean-spirited, far-right zealots auditioning potential Republican presidential candidates.

The national media started realizing Ryan was a shameless liar observing his nonstop mendacity as Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate.

During the campaign, Ryan accused President Obama of closing a GM plant in Janesville that closed under President Bush and of robbing Medicare recipients through health care cost savings Ryan himself included in Republican House budgets. Ryan even lied about his marathon running time, claiming speeds rivaling the Road Runner.

But Ryan’s CPAC lie was far more cruel and dangerous. That’s because Ryan was cheered by the rabid right for explaining why the government shouldn’t provide free lunches to poor schoolchildren that for many could be their only meal of the day.

Ryan told what turned out to be a fraudulent anecdote attributed to Eloise Anderson, Gov. Scott Walker’s secretary of Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families.

Ryan said Anderson “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.”

The reason, Ryan said, was when a child brings lunch to school in a brown paper bag it shows he has someone at home who cares about him.

 

Ryan: Let Poor Kids Starve

The truth is such a child actually existed once, 25 years ago, but he bore no resemblance to the diminutive free-market philosopher cited by Ryan as an excuse to cut government programs to feed hungry children.

That’s because the boy, Maurice Mazyck, once an 11-year-old, homeless black child begging on the streets of New York, is now an adult active with No Kid Hungry, a national organization committed to ending childhood hunger in America.

The anecdote was lifted almost verbatim from The Invisible Thread, a 2011 book by Laura Schroff, a wealthy advertising executive who befriended Mazyck and helped feed him when he was desperately in need.

Ryan twisted the anecdote unrecognizably to justify literally taking food out of the mouths of hungry children.

Providing food to children when they’re hungry may fill their stomachs, Ryan said, but it damages them, hollowing out their souls and making them dependent on the government.

So, apparently, in Ryan’s view, what a caring government really should do for hungry children is stop feeding them.

Because someone of Ryan’s economic class cared enough to provide Mazyck meals when he was a hungry child, the boy grew up with a much healthier soul and a whole lot more human decency and compassion than Ryan possesses these days.

Mazyck now has joined Schroff and other supporters of No Kid Hungry to fight the cruel budget cuts offered by Ryan and House Republicans to reduce funding for school lunches and government food assistance programs.

Glenn Kessler, the fact checker for The Washington Post, awarded four Pinocchios, the rating reserved only for the most brazen whoppers, to both Ryan and Anderson, the Walker cabinet member who claimed the story as her own at a congressional hearing chaired by Ryan.

After the dishonesty was exposed, Ryan posted an apology on Facebook saying: “I regret failing to verify the original source of the story.”

The source from which the story was stolen was the least of Ryan’s offensive transgressions.

How about apologizing for distorting the sad, desperate wish of a homeless child to appear like other children whose families were able to support them to justify vicious Republican cuts adding to the fears and insecurity of the growing number of impoverished, hungry children in Ryan’s America?

When more than 80% of Milwaukee Public Schools students are from poor families receiving free or reduced-price lunches, Ryan should apologize that any Republican congressman or Walker official charged with protecting children and families would seriously suggest government shouldn’t help feed hungry children.

Ryan’s mean-spirited budget ideas are still slowing our economic recovery and preventing workers from getting either jobs or unemployment benefits to feed their own families.

Now, Ryan claims to have bold ideas on poverty. Surprise—Ryan’s ideas are to destroy government programs helping children and families in need. And just like his budgets, Ryan’s ideas on poverty are built on lies.