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Paul Ryan and the GOP disconnect on poverty

Paul Ryan demonstrates the GOP disconnect from the poor at CPAC
Paul Ryan demonstrates the GOP disconnect from the poor at CPAC
Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images

At CPAC on Thursday, Wisconsin Republican Rep. Paul Ryan showed just how disconnected the party of the rich really is when it comes to understanding poverty.

Ryan twisted the words of a story about an impoverished child and free school lunches. In Ryan’s version, the child wanted a brown paper bag lunch instead of a free “government” lunch because the believes kids would rather go hungry than get a free meal.

But according to Wonkette, the child Ryan was referring to “wasn’t turning down government subsidized lunches at school, he was reacting to a private benefactor’s offer to pay for his cafeteria lunches at school.”

Apart from earning 4 Pinocchio’s, from Washington Post fact-checkers, Ryan’s misrepresentation shows just how little millionaires in congress fail to understand poverty and hungry kids.

Most young children don’t know much about political ideology and they care even less about who feeds them when their hungry. Survival instincts don’t wear party labels, particularly among the under 10-year-old demographic.

What Ryan’s distorted message demonstrates is a cold-hearted ideology that is echoed throughout the “smaller government” crowd. For these austerity- pushers the answer is simple; poor people should simply stop being poor and all their problems would be solved. What they fail to explain is exactly how piles of money flow into the hands of Americans living paycheck-to-paycheck, without the resources to better themselves through higher education.

Republicans may believe that making kids go hungry will teach them a lesson about the evils of poverty and “motivate” them to make wealth appear. However, Ryan’s World is not based on reality and therein lies the problem.

Poor people don’t enjoy struggling and it’s not a lifestyle they endure by choice. Just ask someone living in poverty if they would rather have one good-paying job or 3 bad-paying jobs and see what they say. Guaranteed, the answer will not be I love being poor.

Author’s note: The opinions and commentary included in this report are based on the author’s original reporting and independent analysis of official documents and public information.