IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Ryan was for the stimulus while he was against it

Associated Press

Paul Ryan absolutely hated the Recovery Act. President Obama's stimulus measure that boosted economic growth, rescued the job market, and prevented the collapse of the economy at the height of a global crisis, has been denounced repeatedly by the right-wing Budget Committee Chairman.

That is, at least publicly. While Ryan was denouncing Recovery Act investments in front of the cameras, the VP nominee was also seeking Recovery Act investments away from the cameras.

In 2009, as Representative Paul Ryan was railing against President Obama's $787 billion stimulus package as a "wasteful spending spree," he wrote at least four letters to Obama's secretary of energy asking that millions of dollars from the program be granted to a pair of Wisconsin conservation groups, according to documents obtained by The Globe.

The advocacy appeared to pay off; both groups were awarded the economic recovery funds -- one receiving a $20 million grant to help thousands of local businesses and homes improve their energy efficiency, agency documents show. [...]

The documents show that Ryan's attempts to take advantage of the stimulus funds even after he voted against them was more expansive than previously reported.

Now, whenever this subject comes up -- and given the number of anti-stimulus Republicans who begged for stimulus funds, it's come up a lot -- I get pushback from readers. The defense goes something like this: once the Recovery Act became law, all kinds of federal funds were going to be available anyway. GOP lawmakers may have been against the stimulus effort, but once there was money on the table, there's nothing wrong with them seeking investments for their own constituents. It's not hypocrisy.

That's fine, but it's missing the point. Stories like these matter because Paul Ryan, among others, has made fairly specific policy arguments: the stimulus couldn't improve the economy; federal spending doesn't create jobs; and in this case, it's wrong for Washington to invest in alternative energy programs.

And at the exact same time, Paul Ryan was making funding requests, in writing, that said the stimulus could improve the economy; federal spending does create jobs; and Washington investing in alternative energy programs is just a terrific idea.

The point is, he can't have it both ways.

I don't care that Ryan, like so many of his Republican colleagues sought a slice of a pie he didn't think should exist. I care that Ryan's principles are a sham -- he thinks the stimulus can help folks in his district, but it's impossible for the stimulus to help folks in yours.

Indeed, Ryan is delighted the economy in his hometown in Wisconsin is recovering so quickly, but the detail he chooses to ignore is that Obama's stimulus is driving the Janesville recovery.