Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Paul Ryan and Scott Walker Come Out for Repeal of Federal Child-Labor Laws, Because the Kids Insist. Coming soon: Talking polar bears pleading for more oil drilling.

Oh, my — not only was Paul Ryan’s hunger=dignity speech appalling on the merits, the anecdote he used to make his point was fake — a distortion of a real story with a completely different point.

I’m actually not happy with this discovery; the crucial point here should be that even if the story of the kid who wants brown bag lunches were true, it would be a terrible argument against school lunches and the social safety net in general. In a way it’s a bad thing to have the conversation shifted instead to Ryan’s failure to get simple facts right.

— Into the Mouths of Babes, Paul Krugman, nytimes.com today

Here’s what Ryan said yesterday in his speech to the CPAC convention, as related by New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait:

In his vacuous, sloganeering speech today at CPAC, Paul Ryan argued that “the left” — the term he used to describe not the actual left, but the Obama administration — offers Americans “a full stomach — and an empty soul.” What soul-emptying ways is “the left” filling people’s stomachs? Ryan has a story from his fellow Republican, Eloise Anderson:

“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.”

Anderson is a longtime anti-safety-net crusader and currently a member of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker.  Ryan was paraphrasing testimony gave to the House Budget Committee, which Ryan chairs, last summer.  Greg Sargent details the controversy here, and links to Glenn Kessler’s and Wonkette’s investigative reports on it from last night.

I initially had the same reaction as Krugman: that this under-oath fabrication of fact by a witness at a congressional hearing who is a key member of Walker’s administration, would become the news story, rather than that Ryan used the anecdote to come out for repeal not just of the school lunch program but also of child-labor laws.

But upon reflection, I think the revelation that this Walker appointee gave fabricated testimony to a congressional committee–stunning, in itself–is a net plus, because it brings far more public attention than otherwise to the premise of this Walker appointee (and therefore of Walker himself) and Ryan: that children from poor families, including, presumably, infants and toddlers–these people want to kill the food stamp program, too–should work for their food.

This odd conflation of parent and child, by both Anderson and Ryan, is so weird and ridiculous–and so stunningly offensive, surely, to most Americans–that its mere verbatim recitation will, I think, be a gift that keeps on giving during this year’s campaigns.  But it also highlights this: that the Republicans appear to be unaware that a large percentage of school-lunch-program or the food-stamp-program (or both) recipients come from households headed by someone who works, often full-time, at a very low-wage job or at a combination of low-wage jobs.

Or else these pols are claiming that no one should work at very-low-wage jobs, and should instead find a way up the socioeconomic ladder.  In which case, they are saying that Walmart and the fast-food and hospitality industries should pay their employees more.  I mean, shouldn’t be able to find employees. (Not ones who’ve fed themselves and their kids, anyway.)

Paul Ryan and Scott Walker turn out to be pro-labor, after all!  Who knew?  We Dems need to start appreciating the annual CPAC conference for it’s, um, newsworthiness.

These people’s weird obsession with killing the social safety net is shared by–what?–15%-20% of the public? They themselves seem to recognize that outrageous that the people who want this is small, and the people who obsess over it and privilege it over all other policy matters, is really, really small.  Which presumably is why they keep fabricating stories.

This is part and parcel of the genre that until yesterday most recently featured as its top stars Julie Boonstra and Emilie Lamb.  What’s next? Talking polar bears pleading for more oil drilling?

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As an aside, I think that if Walker is serious about running for president, he needs to fire Anderson.  She fabricated a story, under oath, at a congressional hearing.  That’s not a trivial matter.

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Sure you wanna use those particular analogies, Gov. Christie?

OXON HILL, Md. – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie gave a rousing speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference today taking on President Obama while stressing his own conservative credentials.

Christie’s signature tough talking style was on full display when he took on Obama asking, “Mr. President, what the hell are we paying you for?”

“Leadership,” Christie said, “is not about standing on the sidelines and spit-balling.”

Christie To Obama: ‘What The Hell Are We Paying You For?’, Shushannah Walshe, ABC News via Yahoo News

Unless, of course, those sidelines are the lane markers on an entry to the George Washington Bridge, and the spit balls are orange-colored and cone-shaped.

Thought it would be fun to be the first to say that.  Or has someone beaten me to it?

 

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Newt downsized executive branch staff in the 90’s

I found this link in Sitemeter and am in a quixotic mood. I couldn’t resist chasing it down as I wondered what Free Republic was and how Mike’s material could be used in a debate there.

Lifted from comments at Free Republic website regarding Newt’s speech at CPAC earlier this week (and a spirited debate of advocates for Santorum and Romney) comes this note from a Newt admirer regarding Newt’s downsizing the ‘federal government’ in the 1990’s (and to his credit linked appropriately). He uses one of Mike’s early charts on executive branch civilian employment measures of compararing Presidents:

To: American Constitutionalist  

Chart of federal civilian employees…big decline under the Newtster, even while the economy was booming. The decline leveled off post-Newtster. We can see the Carter/Bush eras saw declines in their recessions but Newt kept it going in good economic times.

Another commenter not linked to here chased the link (to his/her credit) to the OMB tables and but then came to the conclusion Mike made up the numbers.

I am not proposing cosmic signigicance here, but a scratch of the head and a ‘WTF’.   As a leftie I suppose the conclusion could be that President Clinton found Newt’s tenure as Speaker so less than challenging he decided that he didn’t need the staff. Aside from all the other business. Thanks Ken for the idea.   🙂

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