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Robert Rector, welfare ad creator, redefiner of poverty, Heritage senior fellow
Poverty redefiner Robert Rector is the guy behind Team Romney's welfare ad lie.
The Obama-gutted-welfare-reform ad that Team Romney keeps touting because this lie works so well is the brainchild of Robert Rector. He's a senior researcher at the right-wing Heritage Foundation who has issued ludicrous pronouncements, excuse me, scholarly ludicrous pronouncements, about how poverty doesn't hurt kids and, in fact, barely exists in America. As Laura Clawson reported, Rector has said that people with air-conditioning, personal computers and cable TV aren't really poor. And argued that the whole concept of trying to lift people out of poverty doesn't fly.

It was all baloney. Just like the welfare ad. The ad claims President Obama demolished the 1996 welfare reform act's key change, moving people from public assistance to jobs. That claim has been thoroughly debunked which, of course, like all Team Romney's other lies, hasn't stopped the campaign from repeating it over and over.

They have Rector to thank. According to Andy Kroll at Mother Jones, Rector is the target of a research project of the Bridge Project:

The Bridge Project is affiliated with American Bridge 21st Century, a super-PAC that researches Republican candidates. (Unlike American Bridge, the Bridge Project does not disclose its donors.) The two groups are the brainchild of David Brock, the ex-conservative journalist who founded the watchdog group Media Matters for America. Bridge Project spokesman Chris Harris says it's "critically important" for Americans to know where political leaders get their information. "As this report shows, not only are conservatives' welfare attacks downright false, but they come from a man with a long history of minimizing the struggles of the poor and villainizing the very idea of government assistance for those who need it," Harris says.
Rector takes full credit for the lying welfare ad. And at a Heritage briefing, he implied that he could have proved the debunking was inaccurate:
The interesting thing I was just talking about on the way over here is that when Romney did ads about this it was my research that was featured in those ads. It was all over the ads. When the mainstream fact-checkers went to check those facts in the ads, guess how many called me? One out of about ten of them. Because they knew perfectly well that if they talked to me they might run into a fact that would counter their spin, and that would be highly unpleasant.
The Bridge Project gives Rector's history in the matter of welfare and poverty a thorough airing. For 20 years, he's been discredited for distorting data and mixing supposed facts with policy pronouncements. But he's also architect of the abstinence-only movement. The New York Times reported in 2007:
Shoring up marriage was Robert Rector's vision a decade ago. A fellow at the Heritage Foundation, Mr. Rector wrote the first bill that legally defined abstinence education, and got it attached as a stowaway to the 1996 welfare overhaul, backed with $50 million for the states. A later Congress, irked at states' finding loopholes in the original intent, designated a second pool of abstinence money in 2001, now the lifeblood of the movement.

Given Team Romney's choices for foreign policy advisers, energy advisers and economic advisers, Rector's "facts" and policy proposals are a perfect match for the campaign.

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Thu Sep 13, 2012 at 10:37 AM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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