Paul Ryan and the Stimulus, Part 2: Make Him Stop!

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The blogosphere has done a nice job of exposing the lies and hypocrisies in Paul Ryan’s prime-time convention speech — not that it will have any effect on his unassailable reputation for courageous straight talk. I’ve already banged my spoon on this high chair before, but I do feel a special responsibility to recount the golden boy’s lies and hypocrisies about my pet topic, President Obama’s $800 billion stimulus bill.

O.K., let’s go to the transcript.

Ryan: “The first and most troubling sign came with the stimulus, President Obama’s first and best shot at saving the economy, at a time when he got everything he wanted under one-party rule.”

(PHOTOS: Republican National Convention 2012)

I don’t want to start out with a quibble, since there are whoppers to come, but Obama didn’t get everything he wanted. As I report in my new book, The New New Deal, congressional Republicans settled on a strategy of obstruction even before Obama took office — and with only 58 Democrats in the Senate, he needed to attract several Republicans to break a GOP filibuster.

So Arlen Specter, Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe all insisted that the stimulus could not be larger than $800 billion — as did at least a half-dozen Democrats. Specter also insisted (over the foulmouthed protestations of Rahm Emanuel) that it include $10 billion for the National Institutes of Health, research dollars that have already created breakthroughs in treating Alzheimer’s, epilepsy and cancer as well as embarrassing stories about studies of cocaine-addicted monkeys and the sexual habits of drunken coeds. Collins killed an Obama plan to build and renovate schools across the nation. And Snowe demanded the inclusion of an annual fix that exempts the middle class from alternative minimum taxes, which cost $70 billion and provided no stimulus. Obama had no choice but to say yes, because legislation that didn’t pass the Senate wouldn’t have helped the economy.

Ryan: “It went to companies like Solyndra, with their gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs and make-believe markets. The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare anachronism at its worst.”

(PHOTOS: The Art of Political Stagecraft)

Don’t get me started on Solyndra, which was chosen from among 143 applicants to receive the first clean-energy loan by … the Bush Administration. (The Energy Department’s career staff delayed the deal just before Bush left office, prompting his Administration to apologize profusely to Solyndra’s CEO.) The company had raised $1 billion in private capital, and its make-believe markets included fly-by-night customers like Frito-Lay and Southern California Edison. It failed because solar got cheap; solar installations have increased over 600% since the stimulus passed, which is why companies like Solar City and SunRun Homes are booming. Solyndra failed, and other stimulus-assisted companies will fail, but thousands of others are thriving. In any case, Republicans have subpoenaed 300,000 pages of Solyndra documents and haven’t found any wrongdoing.

In fact, the rampant fraud and corruption that Republicans predicted before the stimulus passed just hasn’t materialized. Independent experts had predicted that 5% to 7% of the money would be lost to fraud; so far, documented losses have amounted to about 0.01%. The hardnosed investigator who watchdogged the stimulus, Earl Devaney, told me he was flabbergasted by the cleanliness of the enterprise; as he pointed out, you’d have to be an idiot to try to steal the most scrutinized federal dollars in history. And I’m aware of only one instance of inappropriate political pressure involving stimulus money, because I broke the story in my book; Valerie Jarrett summoned an Energy Department official to the Situation Room to push him to approve a loan to a company called USEC, which Obama had promised to help on the campaign trail. But the official resisted, and Jarrett backed off.

Ryan: “What did taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt. That money wasn’t just spent and wasted. It was borrowed, spent and wasted.”

Sigh. It’s rich to hear Ryan — who voted for the Bush tax cuts, the Bush wars and security spending, the Bush prescription-drug benefit, the Bush bank bailout, the Bush stimulus in 2008 and, yes, a $715 billion House Republican substitute stimulus that was extremely similar to the Obama stimulus in January 2009 — complain about debt.

Yes, the stimulus added to the debt. But you know what really would have added to the debt? A depression. In the fourth quarter of 2008, the U.S. economy crashed at an 8.9% annual rate. At that pace, we would have lost an entire Canadian economy in a year. We lost 800,000 jobs in January. Then the stimulus passed in February, quickly pouring money into the economy through aid to states, which saved hundreds of thousands of teacher jobs and helped prevent tens of billions of dollars’ worth of Medicaid cuts; tax cuts for 95% of the workforce; aid to victims of the Great Recession, which helped keep 7 million Americans out of poverty; and $250 checks to every senior and disabled veteran. As a result, the next quarter reflected the biggest improvement in jobs in 30 years. The economy was still weak, but it was no longer grotesque.

The stimulus also included unprecedented investment in clean energy, doubling the generation of renewable electricity, pouring $25 billion into energy efficiency in every form, jump-starting a smart electric grid, launching a battery industry for electric vehicles from scratch and financing the nation’s first refineries for advanced biofuels. It is dragging our pen-and-paper health care system into the digital age, so that we’ll all have electronic medical records by 2015 and our doctors won’t kill us with chicken-scratch handwriting. It created Race to the Top, which has been hailed as a landmark education-reform program by left-wingers like Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels. It included the largest infrastructure investment since Eisenhower’s, the largest middle-class tax cut since Reagan’s, the largest new research spending ever. It modernized unemployment benefits, pioneered a homelessness-prevention program that kept 1.2 million Americans off the streets and reformed the way government spends money.

Oh, and the top economic forecasters agree that at its peak the stimulus added between 2% and 4% to the GDP, the difference between contraction and growth, and saved or created about 2.5 million jobs. Some of it went to Ryan’s district, after he wrote five letters asking for stimulus cash. So maybe it wasn’t all wasted.

36 comments
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Edward Gee
Edward Gee

Grunwald's kneepads must be worn thin by now! Time to get a new pair Grunwald honey, and keep fellating!

Glen Fiddich
Glen Fiddich

  Spin

it any way that makes you feel better: the fact is that Eastwood was

the best thing that could have happened to Obama in the GOP orgy of

self-adoration.

Mr. Obama couldn't BUY a gift like that!

Mitt "Don't Let Fact Checking Get In The Way" Romney in the White House? HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHHAHA!

Thanks, Eastwood!

GOBAMA 2012!!!

flexgreymatter
flexgreymatter

Grunwald proves again his bias and stupidity.  If Reps. don't go along with unending borrowing and push back at all then it is obstuctionist.  Obama had the House and Senate with super majorities and if he did not get what he wanted he simply didn't ask.  Now with debt looming to crush the economy, if Reps push back Grunwald and the hacks called reporters cry like the spoiled infants because they don't get their way.  Please call Mommy and get you pacifier back.

bstockinger
bstockinger

The Republicans don't have anything to run with except the economy but since their actions both before Obama's election and after had a lot to do with the mess we are in they can't even do that so they whine and lie.

bstockinger
bstockinger

 The Democrats need to keep stating what Earl Devaney says about the lack of waste, fraud, and abuse in spending the stimulus money.  If he didn't find any, then there wasn't any. 

dunedweller
dunedweller

It's creepy that Ryan's lies were told with such conviction. He exemplifies the scariest kind of politician - one who has the carefully crafted appearance of a fresh, honest, thoughtful public servant, but his actions reflect the exact opposite - a special interest hack. Thank you Michael for writing this, in particular the delineation of stimulus benefits. I wish that were done a lot more in the main stream media so people wouldn't be so misinformed. Keep it up!  

Dan5404
Dan5404

What a great article, outing one of the GOP's favorite lies about a "failed stimulus" that actualy saved us from a depression.  Many economists believe its' only problem was that it wasn't big enough.  The GOP worked hard to scale it back, just as they are working hard now to scale back any kind of spending except defense and to stop any kind of revenue increases, while lining the rich billionaires' pockets even more with un-needed tax cuts.  All at the expense of middle class, poor and elderly Americans.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, MG. Keep working on the Ryan lies. It’s a lonely job for those in the media, but someone has to do it. I hope that bet is still on for first swamp reporter to outright call the Romney / Ryan team a liar gets a steak dinner. (I don’t know what happens if the winning reporter is a vegetarian. Maybe a Veggie Trio at Ruby Tuesday with the free Garden Bar?)

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

Wait'll the unemployment rate slips below 8% for August...what'll neocons do THEN??

MrObvious
MrObvious

Nothing, they'll figure out how to compare it to right before the crash when we were all in nirvana before the dems managed to destroy the economy.

sacredh
sacredh

Go with July's number because it's more recent?

filmnoia
filmnoia

The Dems better play some hardball in Charlotte. Speakers have to string the words lie, liar, Romney and Ryan in the same sentence over and over, and tie their ideas to the previous administration. The good stenographers of the MSM will have to start using those two words, abandon their euphemisms, and begin to report on the implications to the democratic process when one party resorts to a tissue of lies. Away from the cable talking heads, and around water coolers and loading docks throughout the US, Romney and Ryan will be tagged as liars by the voters over the next two months. When a man in the street is asked what you think of when I say the word “Romney”, the first word out of the person’s mouth is “liar.”

sacredh
sacredh

So. Paul Ryan is a nasty little lying twerp that has so much confidence in Mitt Romney that he's still running for congress too. I guess he really does want a job after November 6th.

flexgreymatter
flexgreymatter

Yes ignore the issues of unending debt, more failed promises than days in office and the greatest talent in the White House being reading a speech, and cry about the pragmatic move to be certain to bring intelligent solutions to the fore.  And lying twerp.... have you listened to anything Biden has said in the past four years.  You have obviously missed your nap and need you blankey.

bobell
bobell

Bob Dole quit the Semate for his presidential run even though he wasn't required to.  How courageous did you say Paul Ryan is?

Diecash1
Diecash1

 That should be the rule, not the exception. 

anon76returns
anon76returns

Unfortunately, that was the exception, including Kerry in 2004 and everybody's favorite in 2000, Joementum.

MrObvious
MrObvious

Michael

If you continue to listen to the rightie zombie horde of 'nnnnnnnnoooooooo stiiiiiiiimmmmmmuuuuuuuuulus' and call out Paul Ryan on his BS it's fully possible that heads will explode.

It'll be messy but I like what you're doing with the whole fact vs. BS thingy you have going on.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

The drivel from Michael Grumwald as he peddles his little book.

Has anyone even paid good money for it yet, Michael?

filmnoia
filmnoia

Again , the paranoid  and out of control Captain Queeg of the Swamp, attacking the messenger but unable to refute the message.

LiberalLies2012
LiberalLies2012

I can refute both the message AND the messenger.

Simply by pointing Grumwald will lie to hold up Obama as the savior of all time.

Grimaldi knows his role. He gets all his talking points and marching orders right from the Obama Admin. He is one of their best SHILLS. He won't refute that.

filmnoia
filmnoia

The cretin hoisted on his own petard. Very weak Captain Queeg, very weak. Time to start rolling the metal balls in your hand from now  until way past Nov 6.

MrObvious
MrObvious

How can you refute it, by calling the writer a librul?

Awesome amount of evidence.

rogu3ish
rogu3ish

Explain what in this story is factually incorrect.  I really want to believe you, but you provide no substance with which I can make a decision.

It doesn't really matter where the information came from.  Is it correct or not?  Prove it incorrect, please.

nflfoghorn
nflfoghorn

I'm guessin' you meant "...messenger/...message." But point taken.

anon76returns
anon76returns

Time permitting, many of would love to hear your thoughts on your temporary colleague Rich Lowry's very, ah, interesting take on the Obama presidency.

pollardty
pollardty

Oh yes. I'll make popcorn.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

I'll bring a bowl of Starburst candies.

RealityBased
RealityBased

LOL, anyone who doesn't get this reference can check out the comments to Lowry's article...

apr2563
apr2563

Please get a megaphone for your message.  Ignore the Rep PR Network, Fox.  Aim your voice to CNN and their ever expanding round table of pundocracy.

RealityBased
RealityBased

Here's hoping that others in the mainstream media will grow a pair and call out the candidates when they lie like this, take comments grossly out of context, etc.

pollardty
pollardty

Absolutely. Every journalist that cares about their profession should make this a crusade* for truth.  

* not to be confused with invading foreign lands to convert people to you faith.