Economy Lying Liars

Paul Ryan Misrepresented Economists He Cited

The Financial Times reports that House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) either misstated or outright misrepresented the findings and opinions of economists which he included in his analysis of anti-poverty programs. Programs that, according to him, have actually made poverty worse.

Here are a few examples:

Ryan’s paper, for example, cited a study published in December by the Columbia Population Research Center measuring the decline in poverty in the U.S. after the implementation of Lyndon Johnson’s “War on Poverty.”

One of the study’s authors, Jane Waldfogel, a professor at Columbia University and a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation, said she was surprised when she read the paper, because it seemed to arbitrarily chop off data from two of the most successful years of the war on poverty. [...]

“It’s technically correct, but it’s an odd way to cite the research,” said Waldfogel. “In my experience, usually you use all of the available data. There’s no justification given. It’s unfortunate because it really understates the progress we’ve made in reducing poverty.”

Here’s another:

Barbara Wolfe, a professor at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, said Ryan’s paper simply misstates the findings of one of her papers studying the effect of housing assistance on labor outcomes. [...]

Wolfe pointed out that Ryan’s paper did not mention another study by the very same authors finding that “the housing program has more benefits than costs so focusing on only one outcome is insufficient from a policy perspective.”

Wolfe also objected to Ryan’s use of another of her studies, which his paper claimed found “Only a minority of families alter their employment decisions in response to Medicaid’s design.”


The Ryan paper also cites a study by Jeffrey Brown and Amy Finkelstein studying whether Medicaid “crowds out” private long-term care insurance.

However, in an email, Brown, the William G. Karnes Professor in the Department of Finance at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, noted that while the paper cites the study accurately in a literal sense, it ignores the caveat that “there may also be other factors that would continue to limit the size of the private market even if Medicaid was reformed.”

It was already clear that Paul Ryan ignored available evidence to arrive at the conclusion he wanted to arrive at, which is that anti-poverty programs do more harm than good, but now it’s also clear that he even ignored other findings of economists he cited to support his predetermined conclusion.

Paul Ryan is a lying liar and his lies aren’t as relatively harmless compared to the lies of a Steve King or Darrell Issa character.

Paul Ryan is the House Budget Committee chairman. His brand of lies inevitably influence policy.

The blinders Ryan wears on the side of his face mean that vulnerable people pay the price for his smarmy, sociopathic arrogance.

  • Draxiar

    What’s that saying? “Paul Ryan is what dumb people think smart people sound like”

  • Ipecac

    WTF do these idiots think is going to happen if they eliminate Medicaid and SNAP and other programs that help the poor? Do they think all these people are just going to vanish? Or maybe they think that creating a huge, dissatisfied and *desperate* class of Americans won’t increase crime, chaos and everything rich dudes hate?

    F’in idiots.

  • muselet

    But but but … Paul Ryan is the Rs’ numbers guy! He’s a policy wonk! Paul Ryan is A Serious Politician.

    At least according to the Beltway media, which define “serious” as an elected official proposing policies designed to stick it to the poors.

    I’m more than half convinced that Paul Ryan gets pleasure from hurting the less fortunate. It’s one of the characteristics Rs refer to as “Reaganesque.” “Smarmy, sociopathic arrogance,” indeed.


  • Christopher Foxx

    The blinders Ryan wears on the side of his face mean that vulnerable people pay the price for his smarmy, sociopathic arrogance.

    He’s not wearing blinders. However dishonest he is (hugely), Ryan is a reasonably intelligent person.

    He knows exactly what he’s doing.

    • Pinkamena Diane Pie

      Just because he knows what he’s doing doesn’t necessarily mean he’s smart. I’ve had dumb dogs that could learn clever tricks.

      • DetroitSam

        There is no evidence that Ryan knows what he is doing.

        • Christopher Foxx

          His success at repeated pushing his budget, and managing his image so that he looks like an honest guy (to stupid people) shows he does know what he’s doing.

      • Christopher Foxx

        No need to insult dogs. Either by suggesting they aren’t intelligent, or comparing them to Ryan.

  • RamOrgan

    File under “More Evidence that Republicans Will Say Anything to Harm the Poor and Help the Rich.” Ashby, too bad you’ll have to repeat this article after Rand Paul plagiarizes it.