Rep. Paul Ryan, perhaps feeling the need to rebuild his (undeserved) reputation as a smart guy after that whole Romeny/Ryan debacle, actually used real economists’ studies for his newly released report on poverty. His budgets have always been held together with spit and baling wire, pretend numbers and savings based on wishful thinking and hypothetical future action. This time, he appeared to make an effort to base his conjectures in published data. However, the people who published these studies say, he twisted that data to his own ends.

[S]everal economists and social scientists contacted on Monday had reactions ranging from bemusement to anger at Ryan’s report, claiming that he either misunderstood or misrepresented their research. 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. […]

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 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.”

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