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Paul Ryan gets 4 Pinnochios for his fabricated tale denigrating school lunches

shira

Diamond Member
Jan 12, 2005
9,574
5
81
Yesterday at CPAC Paul Ryan was stirring up the rank and file:

The left is making a big mistake here. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. The American people want more than that. This reminds me of a story I heard from Eloise Anderson. She serves in the cabinet of my buddy, Governor Scott Walker. She once met a young boy from a very poor family, and every day at school, he would get a free lunch from a government program. He told Eloise he didn’t want a free lunch. He wanted his own lunch, one in a brown-paper bag just like the other kids. He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had someone who cared for him. This is what the left does not understand.
But it turns out this was a complete fabrication:

This was an interesting statement made by the 2012 GOP vice presidential candidate, equating school lunches to an “empty soul.” So one would think the anecdote, described by the National Review as “moving,” would be rock-solid. But the story seemed a bit pat.
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Did Eloise Anderson, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, ever meet such a child?

The Facts

The first thing we did was look for Eloise Anderson and stories about brown paper bags. We discovered a congressional hearing, held on July 31, 2013 and chaired by Ryan, at which Anderson testified, that focused on the War on Poverty. Ryan asked Anderson what should be done to make the food stamp program, also known as SNAP, work better.

Anderson responded:

My thought has always been around the SNAP program even when it was called “food stamps” is, why do you have this program, school program, school breakfast, school lunch, school dinner, when do we start asking parents to be responsible for their children?

You know, a little boy told me once that what was important to him is that he didn’t want school lunch, he wanted a brown bag because the brown bag that he brought with his lunch in it meant that his mom cared about him. Just think what we have done. If this kid tells me a brown bag was more important than a free lunch, we’ve missed the whole notion of parents being there for their children because we’ve taken over that responsibility, and I think we need to be very careful about how we provide programs to families that don’t undermine families’ responsibilities.
Notice that Anderson is telling the committee that a young boy told her that he wanted a brown-bag lunch (symbolizing love} rather than a free school lunch.

Okay, so Anderson had testified about this boy, and claimed that she had spoken to him and realized that welfare programs were draining any sense of responsibility. As she put it, “If this kid tells me a brown bag was more important than a free lunch, we’ve missed the whole notion of parents being there for their children because we’ve taken over that responsibility.”

But the story doesn’t end there. Wonkette, a satiric blog, wondered if Anderson’s story was actually derived from a book titled “The Invisible Thread,” by Laura Schroff, which is a book about a busy executive and her relationship with an 11-year-old homeless panhandler named Maurice Mazyck. His mother was a drug addict, in jail, who had stolen things and cashed in food stamps to pay for drugs. At one point, Schroff offers to bring Mazyck lunch every day so he won’t go hungry. The exchange goes like this:

“Look, Maurice, I don’t want you out there hungry on the nights I don’t see you, so this is what we can do. I can either give you some money for the week–and you’ll have to be really careful about how you spend it–or when you come over on Monday night we can go to the supermarket and I can buy all the things you like to eat and make you lunch for the week. I’ll leave it with the doormen, and you can pick it up on the way to school.”

Maurice looked at me and asked me a question.

“If you make me lunch,” he said, “will you put it in a brown paper bag?”

I didn’t really understand the question. “Do you want it in a brown paper bag?” I asked. “Or how would you prefer it?”

“Miss Laura,” he said, “I don’t want your money. I want my lunch in a brown paper bag.”

“Okay, sure. But why do you want it in a bag?”

“Because when I see kids come to school with their lunch in a paper bag, that means someone cares about them. Miss Laura, can I please have my lunch in a paper bag?”

This actually seemed a little strange. Could the tale told in congressional testimony really be drawn from a book? It did not make much sense in part because Schroff and Mazyck are partnering with a group called No Kid Hungry to help end childhood hunger in the United States. One key part of the program is connecting hungry kids with federal programs such as school lunches and food stamps.

So we asked Anderson when she met this boy and heard his story. Joe Scialfa, communications director for the department provided us with this answer:

In the course of giving live testimony, Secretary Anderson misspoke. What she had intended to say was the following:

“Once I heard someone say, ‘what was important to him as a boy was that he didn’t want school lunch, he wanted a brown bag because the brown bag that he brought with his lunch in it meant that his mom cared about him.”

Secretary Anderson was referring to a television interview which she had seen with Maurice Mazyck.

It’s important to note that there is no discussion in the book about the school lunch program, and we could find no interview with Mazyck in which he said that. He simply repeats the story as told in the book, without any larger political context about federal programs to help hungry children.

Kevin Seifert, a spokesman for Ryan, said: “It’s unfortunate to learn that while testifying before the House Budget Committee, Secretary Anderson misspoke, but we appreciate her taking the time to share her insights.” After our inquiry, Ryan posted a notice on Facebook saying, “I regret failing to verify the original source of the story.”
The Pinocchio Test

Here at The Fact Checker, we often deal with situations in which people misspeak. We certainly don’t try to place gotcha. But this is a different order of magnitude. Anderson, in congressional testimony, represented that she spoke to this child—and then ripped the tale out of its original context. That’s certainly worthy of Four Pinocchios.

But what about Ryan? Should he get a pass because he heard this from a witness before Congress? It really depends on the circumstances. In this case, he referenced the story in a major speech. The burden always falls on the speaker and we believe politicians need to check the facts in any prepared remarks.

In this case, apparently, the story was too good to check. But a simple inquiry would have determined that the person telling the story actually is an advocate for the federal programs that Ryan now claims leaves people with “a full stomach and an empty soul.” So he also earns Four Pinocchios.
 

ivwshane

Lifer
May 15, 2000
28,182
7,997
136
I'm pretty sure he's lied or misrepresented a lot of things he's said. He seems like a pathological liar to me as he has lied about basic things all the way to fabricating what studies have shown with regards to poverty.

When your audience is desperately seeking to hear from anyone that sounds like them they will eat up whatever is told to them regardless if its true or not.

Right wingers are lied to repeatedly by people and websites they agree with and not once have I ever seen any of them get upset or even acknowledged the lie told to them.
 

dphantom

Diamond Member
Jan 14, 2005
4,512
139
106
Whether the story is actual or apocryphal is of no importance. The underlying point is it is much, much better for a child to have a brown bag than to rely on government entity for support. Providing support for that notion should be our aim, not inducing generations of people to rely on anyone other than themselves for support.
 

ch33zw1z

Lifer
Nov 4, 2004
30,865
9,688
146
So we're going to spend more money on the SNAP program by providing brown paper bags now? great....
 

PokerGuy

Lifer
Jul 2, 2005
13,652
199
101
Whether the story is actual or apocryphal is of no importance. The underlying point is it is much, much better for a child to have a brown bag than to rely on government entity for support. Providing support for that notion should be our aim, not inducing generations of people to rely on anyone other than themselves for support.
Ding ding, we have a winnar.
 

Newell Steamer

Diamond Member
Jan 27, 2014
6,895
7
0
Yup - take away school lunches, but keep corporate welfare going.

It's better to leave children off on their own (it's their parent's problem), but, lets keep pumping billions of dollars in subsidies into corporatations that are already making billions in profits.

Because a child should learn they don't have rely on anyone for support. But, again, lets allow profitable businesses to rely for government support.

Are you people that fucking blind?

Put aside the "think of the children" bullshit counter herp-a-derp some of you fuckers like to mock. And, look at your OWN God damn message:
generations of people to rely on anyone other than themselves for support.
Why is a corporation given a pass for something like this, yet a child is held accountable??
 

KB

Diamond Member
Nov 8, 1999
5,094
152
106
This is funny. When I was in school I got the "brown bag lunch" and was jealous of the students getting school lunch. I got peanut butter and jelly and they got pizza. I got apples and they got potato chips. It seemed to me their parents loved them more since they gave them money or got lunch tickets to get what they wanted.

Now that I am older I realize my parents were doing the best they could and what they believed was best for me. I have a hard time believing that a student would be so mature to think as I do now when they are at that young age.
 

Newell Steamer

Diamond Member
Jan 27, 2014
6,895
7
0
Cmon Steamer, Corporations are people too. Where's the love bro?
I am all for pulling up yourself from the boot straps, but go after the billions dumped in corporate coffers (which are already bloated with profits), instead of taking away a sandwich.

And, if the argument is; "it creates a wrong sense of dependancy",.. well, hello, Earth to conservative space cadet, what is going on with corporate welfare?

Isn't that the same thing?
 

Matt1970

Lifer
Mar 19, 2007
12,321
2
0
This is funny. When I was in school I got the "brown bag lunch" and was jealous of the students getting school lunch. I got peanut butter and jelly and they got pizza. I got apples and they got potato chips. It seemed to me their parents loved them more since they gave them money or got lunch tickets to get what they wanted.

Now that I am older I realize my parents were doing the best they could and what they believed was best for me. I have a hard time believing that a student would be so mature to think as I do now when they are at that young age.
You probably ate a lot healthier.
 

JTsyo

Lifer
Nov 18, 2007
10,855
169
106
I don't see how this is on Ryan since as far as he knows that's what Anderson said in front of the committee.

As for the issue, it's disgusting that people are looking for excuses to deny free food for kids. There're much larger blackholes for money, why attack something that's actually worthwhile?
 

thraashman

Lifer
Apr 10, 2000
10,898
1,042
126
I'll give him some credit for at least admitting he was wrong (even if he only did it once it was obvious). And I don't fault him too much for his failure to fact check this. What I fault him for is the FACT that the only reason he got an education which lead to his successes in life is that he got social security survivors benefits. And now he advocates for destroying the same social safety nets that are the only reason he even has a career.
 

MrPickins

Diamond Member
May 24, 2003
8,832
215
106
This is funny. When I was in school I got the "brown bag lunch" and was jealous of the students getting school lunch. I got peanut butter and jelly and they got pizza. I got apples and they got potato chips. It seemed to me their parents loved them more since they gave them money or got lunch tickets to get what they wanted.

Now that I am older I realize my parents were doing the best they could and what they believed was best for me. I have a hard time believing that a student would be so mature to think as I do now when they are at that young age.
This.

When I was a kid, brown bagged lunch meant you were poor (but not quite poor enough for free lunches).

I know; I was usually the kid with the bag...
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
70,068
18,808
136
This reminds me of the report on the 'war on poverty' that Ryan recently released. It was so filled with lies and distortions that a ton of the authors of the economic papers that he claimed to be basing his report on all came out and said he was lying about their work.

At this point the guy just needs to stop digging the hole deeper. It's embarrassing.
 

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