Paul Ryan and the Stimulus: A Match Designed to Make My Head Explode

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Conrad Schmidt / AP

Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, accompanied by Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, left, speaks at the Iowa State Fair in Des Moines, Monday, Aug. 13, 2012.

My main obsession these days is President Obama’s misunderstood stimulus bill—why, yes, thanks for asking, The New New Deal did come out today—but I’m also fascinated by the partisan Republican budget-buster Paul Ryan and his absurd reputation as a brave deficit hawk. So I thought I’d check out Ryan’s positions on the stimulus. Let’s just say they won’t surprise those of us familiar with his work.

Ryan made his skepticism about stimulus clear in a Roll Call op-ed just a month after Obama’s election, complaining, as he always does whenever a Democrat wants to spend money, that it would add to deficits and debt. He also took aim at “the most recent example of stimulus failure,” the $168 billion stimulus package that President Bush had enacted earlier in the year, consisting mainly of tax rebates to American families. “Instead of spending the extra cash, as proponents had hoped, most recipients simply paid off bills or saved the money,” Ryan declared.

Funny, Ryan somehow forgot to mention that he was one of those proponents. He had voted for the Bush stimulus, along with the Bush tax cuts, the Bush wars, the Bush security spending binge, the Bush prescription drug benefit, the Bush highway bill that included the Bridge to Nowhere, and the Bush bank bailout. Fiscal conservatism!

(PHOTOS: Paul Ryan’s Life and Career in Photos)

Ryan did oppose the Obama stimulus, as did every other House Republican. But as I describe in my book, there was an interesting behind-the-scenes debate going on within the GOP caucus about what Republicans should support instead, and it’s telling to see where Ryan ended up.

One side, call it the political side, was led by Minority Whip Eric Cantor of Virginia. He’s a staunch conservative, but his top priority was making sure the Republican vote on the Obama bill was unanimous. So he wanted to stage a vote on a GOP alternative that had plenty of highway projects and other spending that Republican moderates and concrete lovers could support, so they would have something to say yes to while saying no to Obama. The other side, call it the ideological side, was led by Conference Chair Mike Pence of Indiana, who argued that the whole point of fiscal conservatism was opposing government spending, that the Republicans shouldn’t be trying to out-New Deal the Democrats.

“You can’t say spending does nothing for economic growth and then on the other hand, let’s put it all in highways,” one conservative leadership aide recalled.

So the Republican leadership, as former Democratic congressman David Obey put it, decided to fall off both sides of the horse. The official $478 billion Republican stimulus alternative was an ideological bill, consisting entirely of tax cuts and unemployment benefits, with not a penny for infrastructure or other spending. But Republicans also crafted a second $715 billion substitute that was almost as expansive as the $787 billion bill Obama signed into law. It slashed spending on Obama priorities like energy efficiency, the smart grid, summer jobs programs, and aid to help cash-strapped states avoid massive layoffs of teachers and cops, but it actually increased spending on highways and the environmentally destructive water projects of the Army Corps of Engineers.

(PHOTOS: Political Pictures of the Week, Aug. 4-10)

Republicans never explained how $715 billion worth of tax cuts and spending could be good public policy while $787 billion worth of tax cuts and spending was freedom-crushing socialism. In the minority, they didn’t have to. And Paul Ryan? As usual, he fell off both sides of the horse. He voted for the ideological tax-cut bill that would have increased the deficit, and the political spending bill that would have increased the deficit. And then he railed about Obama and the Democrats increasing the deficit.

“They shocked the American people,” he later explained. “They certainly shocked me…Bam! Out of the gates, these people had a hard-core left agenda…They used the rhetoric of freedom and choice and opportunity to sell an inherently statist agenda.”

Yes, the rhetoric of choice and opportunity. Like the rhetoric a certain congressman from Wisconsin used on October 7, 2009, when he wrote Labor Secretary Hilda Solis to push a stimulus grant for a local group.

(PHOTOS: The Rich History of Mitt Romney)

“I have reviewed the Energy Center of Wisconsin’s grant narrative, and I believe that they would make effective use of the funds,” Ryan wrote. He noted that they would “develop an industry-driven training and placement agenda that intends to place 1,000 workers in green jobs.” Ryan also wrote several letters to the Energy Department, seeking stimulus for local groups that would help retrofit homes and businesses to “reduce their energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs.”

Courage!

161 comments
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kumaran
kumaran

my classmate's step-mother brought in $17878 the previous month. she been working on the laptop and bought a $395200 house. All she did was get fortunate and try the guide uncovered on this web site http://www.lazycash49.com

Michael Hembree
Michael Hembree

The article, if anything, illustrates that Ryan can work with both sides of the aisle.

politathiest
politathiest

Anybody know any sites where there's honest discussion between the two sides in which actual facts are drawn out, incononsistancies are admitted by both sides, and where the discussion can ultimately state both philosophies susinctly and why they disagree? That would be great as we could see if there really was a compromisable position or are we doomed to another civil war.

Lufbery
Lufbery

I read this whole article and couldn't find out what was said about Ryan that was so bad??  Maybe the only thing could be that he voted a stimulus that increased the debt and rallied against Obama's Stimulus.   However, the author failed to mention that the plan Ryan voted for actually provided incentive to "business" who hire... (through tax incentives) instead of pumping money to Unions for infrastructure and pensions (to the States) which provide short term jobs at best.  

weatherwiz
weatherwiz

All real politics is local. Ryan is just like any other Congressman or Senator, Republican or Democrat, asking for money for local projects.  The question is how much money did Ryan ask for relative to everyone else in Congress. 

BTW, read the summary of Grunwald's book (click on the link in the article).  I doubt if many people will agree with his conclusions, esp. given the current state of the economy and the failure of the solar power give-aways, etc.   The stimulus was hardly the incredible transformation he claims. 

Ray Burney
Ray Burney

Corporate welfare is always the preferene of the conservatives.  Give to the rich in times of need because they are the only ones to save us.  Deregulation is needed when the system fails us, let the rich do whatever is needed to make a profit. 

When you are born into money and you feel that the poor are dragging you down it is human nature to ignore their plight and to go into self protection mode.

andi
andi

RYAN is a hypocrite, hates America and is a traitor.

RYAN is ok with spending trillions of US taxpayers money on IRAQ/Afghanistan but he is Not OK with investing to rebuild the homeland.

filmnoia
filmnoia

I think you've covered all the bases.

Jstnd
Jstnd

I think the American people have to look at the bigger and deeper picture on the whole economic issues that we are presented with.  If you like Medicare do you want it to be cut?  No. However if we don't make drastic changes to the program and other programs that are currently instituted, we won't have those programs around in 10 to 15 years.  We also have to look at if we keep spending at the current rate without both tax increases and and major cut in spending we will be the next Greece. 

Taxes wouldn't have to be increased on the whole American public.  A drastic overhaul of the tax procedure, which includes eliminating tax loophools, would greatly inhance the taxes collected by the federal government. 

You don't have to agree with me but I am of the opinion that neither party has the right mind set to actually help the country in the right way. 

Carl Carlsson
Carl Carlsson

What a pathetic choice we have, thanks to our two party system.  If you think bouncing back an forth between Democrat and Republican makes sense, keep voting for one or the other.  As for me, until we have Congressional term limits to break their stranglehold on the process, I'll hold my nose and vote third party.

Ivy_B
Ivy_B

If Obama isn't re-elected, a third party vote will give the Supreme Court to the far, far right for generations. The country will be far worse off. Vote third party for Congress and all downticket races, but please think about the Supreme Court when you hold your nose and vote Dem.

MPC
MPC

Lets explore the myth of tax cut stimulating the economy, true this statement was correct  2 decades ago when most of revenue raised from a tax cut (corporate or high income earners) would have gone back into US economy.

But we know live in a global environment Globalization 101: if you are multinational company, small business or even high income earner why would invest in economy forecast to grow a pathetic 2% (heck even Canada had better growth prospects). So more than likely you will end up expanding abroad, investing in new manufacturing facilities in China or even foreign growth etfs.

Question is how come neither party candidate seem to grasp this concept? Money is leaving America and we can do very little to stop that.

Sir Alec Guiness Stout
Sir Alec Guiness Stout

I might not be some fancy pants Washington insider but I do know is it is about time for Paul Ryan to get that much needed public colonic. After the Bush era of Borrow amp; Spend I don't think any Republican can claim to be fiscally conservative.  

sbp2
sbp2

Isn't this how it's always been? Republicans TALK big about cutting spending (which theoretically is not a bad thing), but they never actually do it if it involves something THEY believe in.  Spending has gone up under EVERY Republican administration for as far back as I can remember.

So what is fiscally more "conservative"? Tax and spend, or don't tax and spend anyway?

P
P

Eventually they have to cut spending, and we are getting to that point.  You can see how well its working in Europe. ;)

MrObvious
MrObvious

As we see in Europe the countries who are cutting spending are now experiences deep economic trouble while countries who stimulated their economies like Germany are doing fairly well.

sbp2
sbp2

 As a moderate Democrat, I have no issue with cutting spending. But cutting Planned Parenthood's miniscule piece of the pie while leaving defense spending alone (which makes up the single biggest cut of the budget) is pure theater, not policy.

LittleLilly
LittleLilly

Why is Paul Ryan being called a "fiscal conservative"?

He voted for TARP

He voted for two unfunded wars

He voted forMedicare Part D

He voted for the Farm Bill, the Highway Bill

He voted for No Child

He voted for the creation of TSA

He voted for the creation of the Dept of Homeland Security

A lot of votes for increasing the size and cost of government

Doobie Williams
Doobie Williams

He's not a fiscal conservative he's a Republican.

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 I once had a landlord who was a Rush Limbaugh lover back in the early 1990s.

He had no job and his wife worked two jobs.

He just pirated software and tried to resell it blaming copy write laws for making his job illegal.

.

He didn't need to get a job.

.

His wife needed to stop spending money on things like food, electricity, a car to get to work, heat (which he didn't provide as a landlord, either).

.

No, we don't have to bring in revenue! We just need food, housing and cars to be given to us for free from the free market fairies.

.

What do you call a man who is a "Fiscal conservative" with his family finances?

.

A deadbeat Dad.

.

Now we are on the way to having a full time deadbeat government if the Republican do what they claim they want to do. 

MrObvious
MrObvious

Because he's really really brave in making sure that the elderly pays for the tax cuts corporations and already rich will enjoy in his plan.

blakeNaustin
blakeNaustin

There was no stimulus.  It was $800 billion in pet Democratic pork projects  (adding $800 billion to our national deficit).  Did absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy.

cin
cin

Almost half of it was tax cuts.

Are you saying that tax cuts don't stimulate the economy?

P
P

Perhaps you should read about what happened in the 1930's when we "let the markets correct themselves".

LittleLilly
LittleLilly

REally?

Why did Paul Ryan take so much money then?  And why did he call it an "excellent opportunity for job growth in Wisconsin"?

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 " Did absolutely nothing to stimulate the economy."

.

Except lower unemployment, cause the rate of housing foreclosures to decrease and stop the recession itself leading us into (very) slow economic growth you mean.

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Please find an economist to back your story that the recession did not end after the stimulus package and come back to us then.

newmalthus
newmalthus

Someone here wrote recently:

, Before I would ask about Ryan's Medicare plan I may wonder why the US Senate has not passed a budget in three years. In the world before Obama the US Senate had passed a budget every year since 1974. This dereliction of duty flagrantly violates the 1974 Congressional Budget and Impoundment Control Act.

Of course Obama did propose a budget in 2010 [97-0 against] and 2011 [99-0] in the Senate and oddly enough not one Democrat voted for them. I believe you libs call them the party of YES

Unfortunately fair and balanced CNN,NBC,ABC,CBS,CNBC avoid any criticism of the most incompetent US president since Jimmy Carter

rokinsteve
rokinsteve

That's because of the filibuster rule and the pork attached by the Gee-O-Pee.

MontanaTrace
MontanaTrace

How much more biased can an article be written? Come out and say it, you'll twist anything to attack the GOP candidates. The truth doesn't matter.

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 "How much more biased can an article be written?"

.

Really?

.

Then please tell us what is incorrect about this.

.

Please show us how you can reconcile that Paul Ryan is both fiscally conservative and has a long history of voting for spending as well as for seeking stimulus funds directed towards his own district.

.

Can't find anything to say?

.

Then, perhaps, as Stephen Colbert says, "reality has a liberal bias".

yahoo-CXPLOZT3ODMDG2L7ELY4O74TAY
yahoo-CXPLOZT3ODMDG2L7ELY4O74TAY

 Actually it seems as if the truth doesn't matter TO YOU. He gives you facts. But those facts are counter intuitive to your goal, so you dismiss them because they dont confirm your biases.

Robert
Robert

Oh, and I should add that Obama has surpassed Carter as the worst President.

midwstgirl
midwstgirl

Actually...

—2010 spending under

Obama: 23.8% of GDP (including spending for two wars). 1983

spending under Reagan: 23.5% of GDP (with lower health care costs and

lower interest). Both were years following recessions, when revenues fall

and federal costs increase.

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 And unemployment remained high until 1985.

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

Carter was a fine President.  Not one bullet fired in an unnecessary war fired on his watch; how many other Presidents can say the same?

formerlyjamesm
formerlyjamesm

Uh, there was the matter of Charlie Wilson's war in Afghanistan and boycott of the Moscow Olympics, not exactly conductive to world harmony and peace.  His national security advisor Brzezinski was and remains one of the biggest cold war hawks of all time, even as most acknowledge that the cold war is over.

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 Any basis for that remark or are you just eager to make that claim after W the heart and soul of the Tea Party was being called worldwide the worst president since Herbert Hoover?

.

People in 1932 under Hoover would have given their right arm to have even Carter in the White House.

yahoo-CXPLOZT3ODMDG2L7ELY4O74TAY
yahoo-CXPLOZT3ODMDG2L7ELY4O74TAY

 By who's metrics? Your ridiculous metrics whereas he has a (D) next to his name AND he is black? No one cares about YOUR opinion, Bob ...

Robert
Robert

What did the 'stimulus' stimulate?  How did you fair with the 2 packages?  I am not for a stimulus unless it is given directly to the taxpayers.

PatrickSartor
PatrickSartor

 "What did the 'stimulus' stimulate?"

.

Aggregate demand. It slowed down the rate of decreased household spending by hiring unemployed people and making them return being taxpayers.

.

" How did you fair with the 2 packages?"

.

Two?

.

There was one in the second quarter of 2009 when unemployment was higher than it is now.

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Things improved slowly.

.

When was this second stimulus you are talking about?

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"I am not for a stimulus unless it is given directly to the taxpayers."

.

Do you mean hiring former taxpayers who lost their jobs and from there giving them a salary for work. If so, then you like what Obama did.

.

If you mean more tax cuts, then you like half of Obama's 2009 stimulus.

.

Who will increase their spending more, a household earning too little to ay taxes before the primary wage earner gets hired by the government, or already employed people who, earning enough to get by may just pay off some old bills instead of spending money which hires their neighbor?

Michael Thompson
Michael Thompson

He might have been referring to the original stimulus that was passed in the summer of 2008.  If I recall, it consisted of a $400 check to every taxpayer, an $800 check to a couple and an additional $400 for each kid in the household.  At least, that's what I remember of the specifics of it.

That was passed under Bush though, so he might have forgotten about it entirely.

RichHappyLib
RichHappyLib

"Hi Grandma!  Here is a shiny new voucher to give to the insurance company bureaucrat - he will take care of you." -- Paul Ryan

joebub
joebub

too bad the army corp of engineers is renewing valuable infrastructure that keeps waterways navigable year round you fool. it isn't even close to  being as environmentally damaging as well-sites, wastewater effluent, and coal sediment ponds.

beertoast
beertoast

Ryan is anti stimulus if it helps the middle class and pro stimulus if it helps the top 1%.

Darius Carver
Darius Carver

It's good to see CNN making an article available on their website that is taking a side. CNN is so busy trying to be balanced that they've unbiased themselves into ratings oblivion. As it is, the Republicans will say CNN is biased just for reporting facts. And even when CNN says something critical of Obama, Republicans will say they didn't go far enough.

I say, if you have something negative to say about Obama, let her rip, like how NDAA is potentially denying us due process, and writ of habeus corpus, and how Obama is actually giving up a lot of ground in making his Grand Bargain, he is essentially giving into Republicans... i.e., he'll eventually agree to make the legal retirement age 70 years old. I say criticize Obama... he's not exempt.

But also call out the Republicans; let the American people know the truth, with all it's warts and freckles... in the end, no one will fault you for being honest.

Great article, Grunwald!

AZHenry
AZHenry

Nice look into Paul Ryan. More "looks" into Ryan to come.

The more I read about this fellow the more I find that he is full of hot air, has skillfully worked himself up as a politician, and perhaps is actually more like Romney and his flip-flopping style than we thought. He just does it with more finesse.

bobell
bobell

He's running a bigger scam Than Bernie Madoff ever dreamed of.

Jack Deal
Jack Deal

seems the only one willing to make a statement on the economy is Ryan?  

Leila White
Leila White

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Benjamin replied I am shocked that some people able to get paid $8605 in

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