The head of Paul Ryan’s new anti-poverty task force has suggested that the former vice-presidential candidate’s motivation for massive cuts to welfare is to get Americans dreaming again — since apparently people “don’t dream” when they’ve got food stamps.
Congressman Ryan, whom British author Martin Amis once labeled “a menacing, anti-abortion, fundamentalist, tax-cutting ideologue,” has embarked on a new effort to style himself as a crusader against poverty. However he is clearly not aware of the vital role food stamps have played in the lives of some of the most successful Americans, many of whom have gone on record saying that they would not have been able to escape their grinding poverty were it not for government welfare.
Take the former governor of Colorado Bill Ritter, who said:
“When my father left our family, I was 13 years-old. My mother went on food stamps for a year, until she found work as a bookkeeper. Those food stamps were a lifeline for us. I do now know what we would have done otherwise.”
Even Hollywood actors have paid tribute to them, with Tobey Maguire recalling how:
“Me and my Mom would go into a grocery store and get groceries and pay for them with food stamps, and I would run out of the store embarrassed.”
These, though, are merely the public face of the vital work done by government welfare in the United States. In a country where the latest census estimated over 40 million Americans are living in poverty, food stamps and other welfare programs are often the difference between whether a family will be able to eat or feed their children.
Ryan’s staggering disconnect between ideology and reality is easily explained. In a speech to the Atlas Society (named for the book Atlas Shrugged by the Objectivist philosopher Ayn Rand) in 2005, he labeled Social Security “a socialist-based system.” Ryan has a consistent record of voting for cuts to welfare programs, such as the recently passed Farm Bill that cut billions of dollars from the same food stamps program that Ryan’s allies are now attacking.
As the the current leader of the British Labour Party said of the Conservative Party leadership here in Britain: “They hit people who they will never meet and whose lives they will never understand.”
h/t Daily Kos