Paul Ryan Says He Regrets Calling the Poor “Takers.” That Isn’t Enough.


Here is Speaker Paul Ryan today in an address to a group of House interns:

Instead of playing to your anxieties, we can appeal to your aspirations…We don’t resort to scaring you, we dare to inspire you…We question each other’s ideas—vigorously—but we don’t question each other’s motives…People with different ideas are not traitors. They are not our enemies. They are our neighbors, our coworkers, our fellow citizens.

…I’m certainly not going to stand here and tell you I have always met this standard. There was a time when I would talk about a difference between “makers” and “takers” in our country, referring to people who accepted government benefits. But as I spent more time listening, and really learning the root causes of poverty, I realized I was wrong…So I stopped thinking about it that way—and talking about it that way.

The obvious pushback is that while Ryan may have stopped talking about “makers and takers,” his policies are exactly the same as they’ve always been. After all that time spent listening, he changed his rhetoric but apparently none of his substantive views.

Which is true enough. If all Ryan is doing is telling a bunch of interns that they can get more done if they watch their language and hide their true intentions, then there’s nothing much to applaud here. At the same time, it’s still good to say this stuff out loud, regardless of how sincere it is. Not many people do anymore. Now, how about doing it again in front of a more important audience and with a few explicit references to Donald Trump thrown in?

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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