Fox News is providing ample, uncritical airtime to hype Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) report on the alleged ineffectiveness of government anti-poverty programs, despite condemnation from numerous economists that the report is misleading and inaccurate.
Paul Ryan Releases Report On Poverty In America
Washington Post: Ryan Report Questions Efficacy Of Anti-Poverty Programs. In an article outlining details of the forthcoming Republican House budget, Washington Post reporter Robert Costa noted that Representative Ryan’s report, titled "The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later," offered an "often stinging" assessment of anti-poverty programs:
On Monday, Ryan (R-Wis.), the House Budget Committee chairman, published an often stinging 204-page critique of the federal government’s anti-poverty policies, questioning the efficacy of dozens of initiatives and underscoring where Republicans say consolidation or spending reductions are needed.
"There are nearly 100 programs at the federal level that are meant to help, but they have actually created a poverty trap," Ryan said in an interview. "There is no coordination with these programs, and new ones are frequently being added without much consideration to how they affect other programs. We’ve got to fix the situation, and this report is a first step toward significant reform." [The Washington Post, 3/2/14]
Fox News Provides Uncritical Airtime For The Report
Fox’s MacCallum: Government Programs Barely Make "A Dent In Poverty." Previewing the release of President Obama’s budget on the March 4 edition of Fox’s America’s Newsroom, co-host Martha MacCallum claimed that while the president’s plan called for increased spending on programs to fight poverty, "budget hawks say that the programs don’t work, barely making a dent in poverty when you really look at the numbers over the past 50 years." MacCallum then turned to Fox’s chief congressional correspondent Mike Emmanuel to hype Representative Ryan’s claims about the alleged failure of government programs to reduce poverty and help low-income Americans. [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 3/4/14]
Fox’s Hemmer: "What Has Americans Gotten For" Anti-Poverty Programs? In a March 4 interview with The Hill‘s Bob Cusack about the pending release of President Obama’s budget, America’s Newsroom co-host Bill Hemmer and Cusack repeatedly and uncritically promoted Ryan’s report, with Hemmer stating "Paul Ryan is very forceful on the point. We’ve thrown a lot of money at these programs for decades, and what has America gotten for it?" [Fox News, America's Newsroom, 3/4/14]
But Economists Note That The Ryan Report Is Inaccurate And Misleading
Economist Jared Bernstein: Ryan Report "Beset With Misleading Evidence And Conclusions." In a post on his On the Economy blog, economist and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) senior fellow Jared Bernstein outlined numerous ways in which Ryan’s report was misleading, including alleged claims that anti-poverty programs create a "trap" for beneficiaries and that government programs that have been in place for 50 years have done little to reduce poverty. Bernstein noted that while the report was "a serious look at the issue" of poverty, it is ultimately "beset with misleading evidence and conclusions":
Paul Ryan and the majority Republican staff of the House Budget Committee are out with a big document that purports to provide a balanced evaluation of the full spate of federal anti-poverty programs. It’s a detailed, serious look at the issue but is beset with misleading evidence and conclusions. While much of the commentary suggests that federal antipoverty efforts have failed and are fraught by wasteful duplication, the evidence–some of which is in here and much of which is conspicuously missing) [sic] –belies that facile claim.
Of course we could improve the efficiency of many of these programs. But a close look at their totality shows considerable and even lasting anti-poverty effectiveness. [On the Economy, 3/3/14]