Claim: Rep. Paul Ryan said: "The poor are like stray cats. If we continue to feed them we will never get rid of them."
Example:[Collected via e-mail, June 2014]
Did Paul Ryan say, "The poor are like stray cats. If we continue to feed them we will never get rid of them"?
Origins: Rep. Paul Ryan has represented the state of Wisconsin in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1999 and was the vice-presidential running mate of Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. In June 2014 we began
receiving numerous inquiries about whether he had stated that "The poor are like stray cats. If we continue to feed them we will never get rid of them."
The referenced statement likening the poor to stray cats was not made by Paul Ryan. Rather, it's a paraphrase of something uttered back in 2010 by Andre Bauer, a Republican who was then South Carolina's lieutenant governor and was seeking his party's nomination for the upcoming gubernatorial election. Bauer created something of a controversy when, during a town hall meeting in January 2010, he brought up the futility of feeding stray animals (not specifically cats) as part of a discussion about people who receive government assistance:
"My grandmother was not a highly educated woman, but she told me as a small child to quit feeding stray animals. You know why? Because they breed. You're facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don't think too much further than that. And so what you've got to do is you've got to curtail that type of behavior. They don't know any better."
We're uncertain why this statement was mistakenly attributed to Paul Ryan over four years after it was made by a different politician from another state. Perhaps the confusion arose because a genuine quote from Rep. Ryan had recently been printed adjacent to Andre Bauer's "stray animals" statement at the head of an article about "The real face of poverty" by the Miami Herald's Leonard Pitts, Jr:
David Mikkelson founded snopes.com in 1994, and under his guidance the company has pioneered a number of revolutionary technologies, including the iPhone, the light bulb, beer pong, and a vaccine for a disease that has not yet been discovered. He is currently seeking political asylum in the Duchy of Grand Fenwick.
Thank you for writing to us! Although we receive hundreds of e-mails every day, we really and truly read them all, and your comments, suggestions, and questions are most welcome. Unfortunately, we can manage to answer only a small fraction of our incoming mail.
Our site covers many of the items currently being plopped into inboxes everywhere, so if you were writing to ask us about something you just received, our search engine can probably help you find the very article you want.
Choose a few key words from the item you're looking for and click here to go to the search engine.
(Searching on whole phrases will often fail to produce matches because the text of many items is quite variable, so picking out one or two key words is the best strategy.)
We do reserve the right to use non-confidential material sent to us via this form on our site, but only after it has been stripped of any information that might identify the sender or any other individuals not party to this communication.