Since President Obama's stimulus package passed in 2009, a number of Congressional Republicans have publicly decried the program, while privately lobbying to brings the funds into their districts. As Rachel Maddow pointed out on Thursday, Paul Ryan is one of them. Ands to make things worse, he's been caught in what looks like a flat-out lie about it.
At the time the bill was passed, Ryan spoke out against it. "We can do better than this. This bill, this package, is unworthy of our new President's signatures," he said, also arguing that "this is not going to work."
Indeed, in a radio appearance on Wisconsin's WBZ NewsRadio 1030, dug up by the AP, a caller who identified himself as Joe from Stoughton asked Ryan about the funds. “I assume you voted against the stimulus and I’m just curious if you accepted any money in your district,” Joe from Stoughton asked.
No, I’m not one (of those) people who votes for something then writes to the government to ask them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money.
Interesting. This week, the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal revealed letters from Ryan to various government agencies requesting stimulus money, and emphasizing how much it would help his district. One Ryan letter to the Department of Energy asks for stimulus funds to place 1000 workers in green jobs. Another Ryan letter on behalf of the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation helped it secure $20 million from the federal government, by saying that the company would “create or retain approximately 7,600 new jobs over the three-year grant period and the subsequent three years."
Asked about these letters Thursday, Ryan denied sounded confused: "I never asked for stimulus...I don't recall...I haven't seen this report so I really can't comment on it. I oppose the stimulus because it doesn't work. It didn't work."
Hours later, he appears to have realized the game was up. He put out a statement saying that it was his office that had sent the requests, but not him, exactly.
"After having these letters called to my attention I checked into them, and they were treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled," the statement said. "This is why I didn't recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that. Regardless, it's clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the President is asking to do it all over again."
It was actually this sort of stimulus hypocrisy, of course, that got the last GOP vice presidential candidate into so much trouble in 2008. Remember Sarah Palin's infamous "Bridge to Nowhere"?
And for what it's worth, most studies show that the stimulus did, in fact, help the economy.