March 4, 2014: Below, we've culled details from the report of the House Budget Committee, Chairman (and former VP-nominee) Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), “The War on Poverty: 50 Years Later,” released yesterday in advance of President Obama’s budget intro'd this morning, regarding the Child Care and Development Grant (CCDG), for which the FY 2012 budget was $5.2 billion (although the error-filled report says $5.2 million). Not that there's anything wrong with the House Budget Committee making a few typos. The current budget includes a $154 million increase to the CCDG, restoring the sequestration cuts plus a small increase, for a $5.25 billion package.
At left, Chris Herbst, assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State Univ., one of the principal researchers* Ryan's report quotes in its section on child care subsidies. After reading one of Professor Herbst's recent papers, "Footloose and Fancy Free? Two Decades of Single Mothers' Subjective Well-Being," from the Social Service Review (2012), we think his careful (and fascinating!) analyses have been cynically appropriated.
UPDATE: March 5, 2014: A more in-depth discussion of the appropriation of social welfare research by Paul Ryan and his staff appeared today in an online column in New York by Jonathan Chait. An excerpt:
Basically everything in Ryan’s report turns out to be wrong. The Fiscal Times contacts a number of researchers whom Ryan cites, and they all report that Ryan knows nothing of their work:
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 .…
Chris Wimer, the lead author on the paper and a researcher at Columbia, said Ryan’s conclusion ignores the major expansion of the earned-income tax credit in 1993 and the roaring dotcom economy of the mid-to-late 1990s. “While our data can't disentangle those three things, attributing the decline in poverty after 1993 to the welfare reform of 1996 seems to go beyond what the data show,” Wimer said.
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.”
Wolfe said that the study had been restricted to a small percentage of recipients, and that its findings were limited to the years prior to the welfare reform bill that passed in 1996.
Back to details from the Ryan report.
Evidence: Child Care Subsidies
…increase likelihood of [single] mothers participating in labor force: [Cited studies] find “subsidy recipients were…about 13 percentage points more likely to be employed after controlling for family characteristics.”