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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press Maybe Paul Ryan's Critics Are Upset By Very Old Ideas Being Called "New Ideas"

Maybe Paul Ryan's Critics Are Upset By Very Old Ideas Being Called "New Ideas"

Tuesday, 25 March 2014 05:35

Washington Post columnist Marc Theissen speculates on why Paul Ryan's critics are so unhappy with his recent writings and speeches on poverty:

"Why are Democrats so threatened by a Republican congressman trying to find new ways to help the poor and vulnerable? Wouldn’t it be better if there were two parties competing to find the best ways to alleviate poverty?"

Maybe part of the reason is that Ryan didn't actually present any new ideas. Everything in his bag of tricks is at least two decades old and in many cases much older. Furthermore, much of his analysis was based on misrepresentations of research on poverty.

Is it really surprising that people who are concerned about addressing the plight of the poor are upset when an ambitious politician seems to deliberately misrepresent decades of research by serious scholars in order to push his political agenda? The fact that these misrepresentations get large amounts of media attention, when the actual research is largely ignored, is a further cause for anger.

Comments (6)Add Comment
Upset? ....
written by John Puma, March 25, 2014 6:51
No, completely enraged that frank racism still exists as virulent as ever, in congress, and is lovingly coddled by the media, in this particular case by the execrable Thiessen, also a coddler of war criminals.

What Paul Ryan is FOR Betrays What He is AGAINST
written by Last Mover, March 25, 2014 6:59

Periodically on cue, as politicians work themselves into a latherfest like the recent CPAC , one will announce the latest "new" idea ... to advance what they stand for, implying that what they have been against all along isn't working anymore.

What better way to lie through one's teeth than to separate the two, which is what Frank Luntz was all about isn't it.

In Paul Ryan's case for example, who is not for a homemade lunch for the kid made by Mom with dignity, free of the shame of accepting a free lunch from the school cafeteria.

Notice however, you didn't see Paul Ryan making the same claim for say, drinking water in West Virginia poisoned by leaking chemical tanks, as in: Who would not be for drinking and bathing in clean water with dignity?

No sireee, because if Ryan said that, even a tehadist could grasp that means Ryan is for big government with dignity.

Now that really is a new idea isn't it. Paul Ryan lies, but he does it with so much dignity no one can tell what he is against anymore.
Straw Man
written by Jeffrey Stewart, March 25, 2014 8:22
Marc Thiessen (speechwriter for war criminals George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld) writes,
"Why are Democrats so threatened by a Republican congressman trying to find new ways to help the poor and vulnerable?"

Mr. Theissen provides no logic or evidence supporting his conclusion. Thus, he attacks a straw man. Democrats aren't threatened by Mr. Ryan finding ways to help the poor. Democrats and thinking people generally recognize he isn't trying to help them. He's concocting rationales to avoid helping the poor, cut government programs that assist them and cut taxes for those high income and therefore, worthy people. That's who he's trying to help.

Mr. Ryan's whole ideological schtick is that it's the poor's fault for being poor. He said explicitly that they just don't want to work and therefore, they're to blame for their unemployment and poverty. This completely ignores the objective fact that there's a jobs deficit. There just aren't enough jobs for everyone wanting to work, never mind at a living wage.

"We have spent trillions of dollars on anti-poverty programs, and today the number of Americans living at or near poverty is higher than it was in 1964." -M Thiessen

Mr. Thiessen cherry picks statistics. It must be very easy for someone who wasn't affected at all by the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the last century to forget that it happened and the devastating effect it had on the working class and poor. It's obvious to all who want to see that part of the current poverty problem is the insufficient government stimulus, austerity by localities, states and the federal government and Republican obstruction of programs to put people back to work and alleviate poverty, e.g., raising the minimum wage. He blames anti-poverty programs for failing to overcome these insufficient and irresponsible governmental responses.

The normal, profitable operation of capitalism generates unemployment and poverty. Mr. Thiessen, Mr. Ryan and right wingers generally, blame the victims for their plight. What are their alternatives to the government helping people by feeding, housing and providing them health care? Is it to let them suffer hunger, exposure, illness and eventually death?
written by PeonInChief, March 25, 2014 10:02
People aren't threatened by Ryan's "ideas." People are irritated that this tired "culture of poverty" assertion (it's hard to call it an argument, as it has never been backed by much in the way of, like, facts or evidence, but because it's so comforting to the elite, we have to keep beating it back, when we could be doing things like creating jobs or building affordable housing that would actually alleviate poverty.
Thiessan's Job is to be Unafraid to Look Stupid
written by Aaron, March 25, 2014 8:04
My conclusion, based upon what I've seen Thiessen write, is that he views his job as being to push absurd positions in favor of the Republican Party, even when any sane person reading his column would think him a complete idiot if he actually believed what he was saying. Fred Hiatt seems to love having columnists like Thiessen on his pages, but even in that context Thiessen's ability to expound idiocy with a straight face puts him in a class of his own.
When They Begin to Stink, Bury'em.
written by Larry Signor, March 27, 2014 12:10
PLEASE REPEAT AFTER ME: Paul Ryan will never be POTUS.

He is a shooting star whose ideas burned out long ago. Maybe (like the neighbors cat), if we ignore him, he'll just go away.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.