Paul Ryan’s Poor-Shaming Paper Bag Story is a Fake

Paul Ryan pretends to wash dishes in Youngstown, OH (AP)

Paul Ryan pretends to wash dishes in Youngstown, OH (AP)


After a commenter at Talking Points Memo pointed out that Paul Ryan’s poor-shaming sack lunch story sounded awfully familiar, Wonkette.com picked up the story and ran with it.

As the commenter pointed out, the sad paper bag lunch story was actually lifted from a book titled An Invisible Thread, but that was only the beginning of discovering just how misconstrued Ryan’s anecdote was.

Here’s the key passage from An Invisible Thread:

“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?”

But wait, where in An Invisible Thread are school lunch programs mentioned?

They aren’t.

Wisconsin Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson reportedly shared the sack lunch anecdote with Paul Ryan during a congressional hearing in 2013, but the school lunch aspect was inserted by her and repeated by Paul Ryan. Ryan also added that “the left” couldn’t possibly understand the story and that Democrats offer Americans a “full stomach and an empty soul.”

According to the author of An Invisible Thread, Laurie Schroff, the book wasn’t intended to be a partisan argument and, in fact, she believes cutting school lunch programs is a mistake.

She asserted that her book was not “political” and disagreed with Ryan’s “full stomach and an empty soul” comment.

“I want people to think about what they can do to make the world a kinder world,” Schroff said. “I don’t care about Republicans and Democrats. But we are talking about children that need to be fed. Cutting school lunch programs doesn’t accomplish that.”

Let’s be clear — the blame for this lay squarely with Paul Ryan because he’s not only a congressman sharing false anecdotes, he’s the Budget Committee chairman and he’s on a quest to cut vital programs that feed the needy. His next budget proposal is expected to hit food programs hard.

Feeding children shouldn’t be partisan, but it is because of sociopathic bean-counters like Ryan.

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  • RamOrgan

    You want to make the world a kinder world? Vote Ryan and his ilk the hell out of public office. The Koch bros. and their ilk can take care of themselves without taking the means of existence from those (much) less fortunate than them.

  • zirgar

    Paul Ryan – Full stomach, empty head.

    • Nefercat

      Full colon, too.

  • Robert Scalzi

    when was the last time Paul “Lyin” Ryan said something that was based on Facts ?? anyone ??

  • Axomamma

    Oh, come on! Paul Ryan was set up! Definitely a liebrul plant fed him that story! Paul Ryan is just too trusting!

    I don’t suppose Paul Ryan has explained yet how his mooching off the taxpayer teat didn’t negatively affect his ability to grift.

  • Nefercat

    “Paul Ryan’s Poor-Shaming Paper Bag Story is a Fake”

    What a surprise. So is Ryan, the heartless, soulless asshole.

    • KABoink_after_wingnut_hacker

      Yep, and he’s also a lying sack of guano.

  • GrafZeppelin127

    War is Peace.
    Freedom is Slavery.
    Ignorance is Strength.

    Cruelty is Compassion.

    • captkurt

      Doubleplusgood! Yet another day when the day’s news from the Banter drives me to crave more Victory Gin.

  • Brutlyhonest

    My parents made some terrible choices that resulted in, among other things, the need for government assistance. That included picking up food and getting free breakfasts and lunches at school. There were a lot of us in rural NC getting the same assistance – many of us weren’t even brown! I went on to have a 27 year Navy career and actually care about my fellow humans. Most of the people I grew up with, including those getting gubmint help (then and now), are part of the greedy, selfish right wing support that keeps ryan and his ilk in office.

  • muselet

    Charlie Pierce last month:

    I feel stupid writing this again but this is a guy who spent his high school and college years getting an education on my dime through Social Security survivor benefits. It didn’t seem like the edge of his ambition was dulled in any way by the “handouts” that were keeping him alive. He walked right out of College — You’re welcome, dickhead. — and, courtesy of a local sugar daddy, into a job on the hill and thence to some coatholding at a think-tank. Then he got elected to Congress. The dead, motivation-killing hand of government doesn’t seem to have slowed him down at all. Sweet testicles of Ra, the man is a transparent fraud.

    He’s just another Righty who wants to pull up the ladder now that he doesn’t need it. Quelle surprise.

    So no one can accuse me of simply taking a personal shot at The Zombie-Eyed Granny Starver from Wisconsin, I’ll give the last word to TPM commenter “Matthew1961″:

    Even if the plagiarized story were true, it would show that the child doesn’t like being poor. And therefore the response is to cut off school lunch??

    –alopecia

    • stacib23

      I would pay a month’s salary to see a reporter to actually say this to Paul Ryan, and then push him until he answered.

      • muselet

        It’d never happen—every reporter lives in mortal fear of losing access—but it’s a nice dream.

        –alopecia

  • Ipecac

    When a child’s stomach is empty, I’m pretty sure he isn’t giving one whit of attention to his “empty soul” whatever the F*** that means.

  • mrbrink

    Bootstraps are edible, right?

    I was just thinking the other day, I’m so fucking hungry, and then Paul Ryan whipped up a sizzling dish that he called Brown Paper Flambé and left it on our doorstep.

    Legislating by anecdote is one thing, but legislating by plagiarized anecdote has left Paul Ryan with a bunch of pages of Atlas Shrugged stuck together. What’s he supposed to do? Legislate from the Bible?

  • gescove

    Sorry… the rage I feel has overwhelmed my capacity for rational thought and civil commentary. To Mr. Ryan: F*** you, you f***ing f***.

  • D_C_Wilson

    This is what I love about CPAC. Its the one time of a year that conservatives and wingnuts feel comfortable enough to drop the last vestiges of being decent human beings and just act like the raging assholes they truly are.