Skip to main content

I suppose either David's decided to actually fight for his job by no longer dimly nodding his head and smiling as Republicans spout their nonsense in his face or else he's finally reached the Fukitol point and has decided to Do. His. Job.

DAVID GREGORY: Let’s talk about your own attitudes about people who are poor and their views on government. You were on this program of January of last year and you said the following:

REP. PAUL RYAN (On Tape): We don’t want a dependency culture. Our concern in this country is with the idea that more and more able-bodied people are becoming dependent upon the government than upon themselves and their livelihoods.

DAVID GREGORY: It doesn’t sound like there’s a lot of sympathy for people you think need the government’s help. What you seem to be saying is that people have a problem with their own dependency here that government is only furthering.

Oh, you mean to say that Paul Ryan blames the poor for their own poverty?  Why yes, yes he does - but when actually say that to him - it's funny how quickly he runs away from the truth.

REP. PAUL RYAN: That’s not my intent and it’s far from it. And my point, and I’ll make it again, is we don’t want to have a poverty management system that simply perpetuates poverty. We want to get at the root cause of the poverty to get people out of poverty. And I would argue that that is the best way to go forward.

And that’s what we’re proposing here, which is have benefits that are customized to either person’s problems, because poverty is very complicated. And not just keep them where they are, but have them get to where they want to be. And that is what is the trust of these proposals. The federal government’s approach has ended up maintaining poverty, managing poverty.

In many ways, it has disincentivized people to going to work. In some cases, you lose more in benefits if you go to work. So people don’t go to work because of the federal disincentives that do so. So we need to reemphasize getting people up and on their lives and helping them give them the tools to do that. That’s the point.

Able-bodied people should go to work and we should have a system that helps them do that so that they can realize their potential. That for me is a far better system to get people out of poverty long term than to just spend more hardworking taxpayer dollars on a program that is not getting the results that people deserve.

Have we no work houses?  Have we no place for which we can put these people and put them to work simply because they should work and work more, and then when their done working - they should work some more.

It would have been nice if David Gregory had pointed out that many people who are living far below the poverty line - Are. Already. Working.

Even Right-Wing sources such as Newsmax acknowledge this when the think they can smash President Obama for it.

Despite years of railing about income inequality, the poor are no better off today than they were when President Obama took office in 2008.

About 50 million Americans live below the poverty line and a record 47 million of them — 13 million more than when the president assumed office — receive food stamps, The Washington Times reports. The federal government defines the poverty line as a family of four earning $23,550.

Since President Lyndon Johnson waged the war on poverty 50 years ago, the plight has been labeled with many a catch phrase: class warfare and income equality to name a few. But in those 50 years, things haven’t changed much.

In two generations, the poverty rate has fallen only to 15 percent from 19 percent, according to The New York Times. And that figure has stood at 15 percent for three consecutive years, for the first time in nearly 50 years.

Like Ryan, Newsmax declares the "War on Poverty" a failure simply because it continues to exist, while ignoring that before it began poverty was far more prevalent than it was immediately after once you include the direct and positive impacts of programs such as SNAP, Medicaid, Unemployment, Heating, Housing and General Assists on the quality of life of those who benefit from them as contrasted with where they would be without them.

Hungry, Broke, Homeless, Sick, and very likely Dead.

And as I stated above, they ignore the fact that a significant portion of the poor - aren't sitting at home eating bon bons on the tax-payers dime. They. Are. Working. yet not earning enough to maintain a decent standard of living.  The unemployment rate has plummeted under President Obama, but the percentage of the working poor has gone up.

In 2011, some 46.2 million Americans lived below the official poverty line — 15 percent of the country. Of those, roughly 10.4 million counted as the "working poor," people who either had jobs or were looking for at least half the year, but still fell below the line.


[From the Bureau of Labor Statistics]

— Part-time work was much more conducive to poverty than full-time work. Some 14.4 percent of part-time workers fell below the poverty line, compared with just 4.4 percent of full-time workers. The fact that part-time jobs have made up a huge chunk of the U.S. economic recovery has a big effect on poverty rates.

— Low wages are, not surprisingly, the biggest problem. About 66 percent of the working poor fell below the poverty line at least in part because of low earnings. But the still-terrible labor market played a big role too: 39 percent of the working poor experienced bouts of unemployment during the year.

— Some jobs have higher rates of poverty than others. The largest group of working poor were in the service industry — 3.3 million, or 13.1 percent of all service workers. Other jobs with particularly high rates of poverty include farming, fishing, and forestry (17.1 percent) and construction and extraction (10.6 percent).

The fact is that working, in and of itself, is no longer the "pathway to prosperity" that it was in generations past.  The ladders of opportunity that once existed have been yanked upward out of the reach not just of the poor, but also much of the middle-class.

The New York Times reported today on the lack of upward mobility in the U.S., specifically citing comments made by presidential hopeful Santorum that movement “up into the middle income is actually greater … in Europe, than it is in America.” National Review, a conservative weekly, and Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) have made similar remarks about economic opportunity in Europe.


The piece mirrors TIME’s cover story from Nov. 14 by Rana Foroohar, “What Ever Happened to Upward Mobility?”, and includes many of the same stats on economic opportunity (or lack thereof) in various Western industrialized nations. Both pieces cite numbers from the Pew Charitable Trusts’ Economic Mobility Project and other studies that found that 42% of American men with fathers who were in the bottom fifth of the earning curve stay there. Meanwhile, only a quarter of Danes and Swedes and 30% of Britons born into the lower-income bracket will die in that same bracket.

It's good to see Gregory use Ryan's own words against him, and to reject his empty platitudes of benevolence - although he could have, and should have, gone much further.

But then expecting Gregory to be versed in the facts, and to have the juevos
to challenge Ryan and then back up his challenge is probably expecting far more than we will ever see on Network television again.

It's far easier for Ryan to blame some "lack of work ethic" or "government induced slovenliness" as the source of entrenched poverty, rather than to accept that the European model - which offers far more and better rewards for workers efforts - is outpacing our rates of upward mobility, because that's what happens when you pay people what their worth, rather than putting priority on rewarding investors for the strenuous, oh-so-tiring job of sloshing their money around.


3:04 PM PT: To be fair - Robert Reich finds Ryan's new proposals "Impressive" and even endorsed them on This Week. I have, as yet, not fully reviewed them and I don't have time to do so today.

This diary was primarily addressing the integrity question for Ryan but I will, considering Reich's comments, get to a detailed analysis very soon as I have in the past going back all the way to when Ryan first become head of the budget committee.

3:15 PM PT: Ryan argues that the "War On Poverty" which began in the 60's has "Failed".  But as I said in the diary, this is what has happened to the percentage of families in poverty before the "Great Society" and more recently.  Note that the uptick at the end - which is what Republicans constantly blast President Obama for is during 2007-2008, before he became President as the economy crashed under the policies supported by Paul Ryan during the end of the Bush Presidency.  Republicans can't stop themselves from claiming that what has at least partially worked is not the "cause" of poverty rather than an incompletely cure.

And here's what it did to the rate of Poverty by Race.

See that little hump-backed section in these charts?  That was [mostly] during the Reagan-Bush era, when Republican trickle-down policies were first implemented.

6:37 PM PT: I have to go to take my wife to the emergency room - no, not it's not an "technical emergency" but she needs meds for a UTI and that's where we go for an "Office Visit", so as I said I don't have time to really delve into this properly - but I'll leave you with this which just came across my facebook feed.

First, Ryan’s “Expanding Opportunity” pilot program depends heavily on Republicans’ long sought-after “block grants.” A block grant is a one-time yearly federal payment to the states to use the money as they see fit with no input or regulatory oversight for how states use the money. Republicans love the “block grant” idea because there are no provisions for economic downturns, cost-of-living increases, or requirements to follow federal oversight for how the money is spent. In Ryan’s plan, funding for several programs from food stamps to welfare (11 federal programs in total) are bundled and handed to states to allot the money according to conservative ideology.

Under the Ryan-American Enterprise Institute plan, he envisions local private religious groups like Catholic Charities [ed: Who of course will not have any problem what so every with your "lifestyle"] , religious non-profits, [like Wheaton?] and private organizations [ala Hobby Lobby?] “delivering customized services with a private third party evaluating the results;” more federal money for the religious right and private enterprises, but nothing for job creation. After several Republican states rejected free federal money to expand Medicaid, shift federal tax dollars for public schools to private Christian schools, or giving the wealthy tax cuts, handing Republican states federal “block grant” money for the poor is a dangerous idea.

On first blush, expanding the earned income tax credit - the Reagan era program that is the primary source for Romney's "47%" argument because students, the elderly and working poor don't pay federal income taxes - is on it's face a good thing.  It's much like the payroll tax holiday that President Obama implemented at the beginning of the '08 Crash as a way to put more money in the pockets of consumers and spur the economy from the bottom up.

On the other hand, as the PoliticuUsa article points out - there is a great deal of danger in State Block Grants, particularly when you bring in religious and privatized parties to administer them.  The reason you want government doing some of this directly is because a) they actually do it with much less overhead and b) they do it without any discriminatiion or coercion.  Religious organizations and non-profits are not nearly above using their philanthropy to proselytize and stigmatize. What if we don't want the equivalent of a Blackwater or Fred Phelps doing our "Life-Coaching"!

I'm not gonna say the plan is either good or bad yet - I have too many question, and no time to dig up answers today.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site