Ryan: Another Stimulus Money Hypocrite


It should come as no surprise to find out that Paul Ryan, like almost every other Republican in Congress, says one thing but did another when it came to stimulus money projects. The problem is, he spent several days denying ever having done so:

As recently as Wednesday in Ohio, Mitt Romney’s running mate told ABC’s Cincinnati affiliate, WCPO, he did not.

“I never asked for stimulus,” Ryan said. “I don’t recall… so I really can’t comment on it. I opposed the stimulus because it doesn’t work, it didn’t work.”

Two years ago, during an interview on WBZ’s NewsRadio he was asked by a caller if he “accepted any money” into his district. Ryan said he did not.

“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,” the congressman answered.

Actually, you are.

In 2009, as Rep. Paul D. 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…

Ryan’s campaign spokesman, Brendan Buck, on Monday declined to comment, pointing the Globe to the statement from Ryan’s Capitol Hill spokesman at the time of the Wall Street Journal article in 2010.

“If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job and providing a legitimate constituent service to his employers,” the spokesman said. The Romney campaign did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

But that misses the point entirely. Of course he should help get federal grants for his constituents. But he did so on the grounds that the money for those projects would help create jobs in his district, while simultaneously, and continuously, claiming that such spending did not create jobs nationally. Virtually every Republican in Congress did the same thing. They apparently want people to believe that they represent a magical place where stimulus spending creates jobs, but that similar spending on projects in any other district or state mysteriously do not create any jobs. That’s convenient, but clearly ridiculous.

The other great irony here is this: $288 billion of the stimulus package was spent on tax cuts — you know, the thing that Ryan swears is the best way to stimulate the economy. About the same amount was spent on infrastructure projects. So apparently tax cuts stimulate the economy when Republicans come up with the idea but not when Democrats do. And infrastructure projects favored by Democratic presidents are apparently so magical that roads and bridges get almost $300 billion worth of work done on them without employing a single person to do that work.

Comments

  1. says

    he did so on the grounds that the money for those projects would help create jobs in his district, while simultaneously, and continuously, claiming that such spending did not create jobs nationally

    Exactly.

    I enjoy the way you often put your fingertip on the exact spot on the map! Well done.

  2. Michael Heath says

    In Ed’s last blog post yesterday about Paul Ryan, Reginald Selkirk links to Rep. Ryan’s concession he did solicit stimulus funds.

    It should be noted that Rep. Ryan continues to lie about the stimulus however given this quote in the above linked report:

    “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.”

    The fact the president continues to promote a stimulative fiscal policy approach which Republicans have been able to successfully obstruct since 2010 should be one of the biggest stories of our times. The fact, and it is a fact, one of the two political parties actively obstruct policy known to promote the national interest and decrease human suffering. Apparently because doing so advances their political success and/or they’re so uninformed and misinformed about basic economics. Either or any combination of which should disqualify Republicans from consideration for office by all Americans.

  3. Paul W., OM says

    I don’t agree with Ryan’s economics at all, and his denying what he’d done was ridiculous, but I don’t think it’s hypocritical for conservatives to vote against stimulus spending and then ask for their share, once the stimulus bill has passed anyway.

    When non-batshit conservatives say that stimulus spending doesn’t crate jobs, nationally, they’re presumably talking about net job creation, factoring in the job-destroying consequences of taxation.

    When they say that stimulus spending does create jobs locally, they’re talking about job creation, not factoring in the effects of taxation—which makes perfect sense.

    They’re saying that on the one hand, they don’t want tax-and-spend policies, which they think are ineffective overall, but that on the other, they don’t want the taxing and no spending in their districts, which is even worse. If they’re going to be taxed, which destroys jobs, then they want their share of the spending, which creates some jobs, in partial compensation.

    That’s not even a little bit hypocritical. It’s just not being stupid enough to turn down what you’ve already been forced to pay for.

    What is bullshit is claiming that they actually don’t ask for their share of the spending, as Ryan has done, and Palin did before him. That’s just batshit lying spin, pretending to get up on a ridiculously high moral horse when they don’t.

  4. says

    …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…

    I’ll bet Obama’s appointee was laughing his/her ass off while granting that request: they got to fund a program doing real good AND make Republicans look like childish hypocrites with one swell foop! Who says liberal big government isn’t efficient?

  5. says

    …I don’t think it’s hypocritical for conservatives to vote against stimulus spending and then ask for their share, once the stimulus bill has passed anyway.

    If they oppose a stimulus bill because they [claim to] think it’s bad for the country, then ask for a share because they think it would be good for their piece of the country, then yes, they ARE being hypocritical. If you are a Rep or a Senator and you really think a government spending program is bad, then you should, at the very least, refuse to ask for any share of it, on the grounds that your constituents will be better off without it. And if you intend to ask for a share, then you should support its passage first.

  6. Michael Heath says

    Paul W. writes:

    I don’t think it’s hypocritical for conservatives to vote against stimulus spending and then ask for their share, once the stimulus bill has passed anyway.

    Please blockquote that which you attempt to rebut. If you did you’d find your argument fails given what Ed already argued, which was:

    Of course he should help get federal grants for his constituents. But he did so on the grounds that the money for those projects would help create jobs in his district, while simultaneously, and continuously, claiming that such spending did not create jobs nationally. Virtually every Republican in Congress did the same thing. They apparently want people to believe that they represent a magical place where stimulus spending creates jobs, but that similar spending on projects in any other district or state mysteriously do not create any jobs. That’s convenient, but clearly ridiculous.

    The other great irony here is this: $288 billion of the stimulus package was spent on tax cuts — you know, the thing that Ryan swears is the best way to stimulate the economy. About the same amount was spent on infrastructure projects. So apparently tax cuts stimulate the economy when Republicans come up with the idea but not when Democrats do. And infrastructure projects favored by Democratic presidents are apparently so magical that roads and bridges get almost $300 billion worth of work done on them without employing a single person to do that work.

    So the hypocrisy wasn’t necessarily arguing against the stimulus via the strawman you pose while simultaneously conceding there political loss and then seeking funds for their districts, but instead arguing that such attempts do not work at all and then seeking to participate because history and our own lyin’ eyes prove it does work. A lesson Rep. Ryan demonstrates he knows because he sought such funds while claiming it doesn’t work, and I as I quote, continues to hypocritically lie about. Not only is this hypocrisy, it’s a text-book example of weapons-grade hypocrisy.

  7. slc1 says

    Re Paul W @ #3

    The problem with Mr. Paul’s analysis is that the stimulus package was not a tax and spend proposal. On the contrary, it was a tax cut and spend proposal. One can argue as to whether deficit spending stimulates the economy but that’s not the argument that Mr. Paul is making.

    As a matter of fact, Rethuglicans like Paul Ryan actually believe that deficit spending stimulates the economy, provided it is implemented in the form of tax cuts. This is the whole basis of supply side economics and the Laffler curve.

  8. says

    If they’re going to be taxed, which destroys jobs, then they want their share of the spending, which creates some jobs, in partial compensation.

    If the actual use of tax revenues creates jobs, then you cannot maintain that taxation destroys jobs. That’s just one more huge hole in Republitarian fiscal ideology: government spending of tax revenues, in fact, creates more US jobs per dollar than the same amount of money spent on consumer goods, since US and state governments don’t tend to import cops, firefighters, soldiers, sailors, pilots, construction workers, bureaucrats…

  9. Michael Heath says

    Paul W.:

    When non-batshit conservatives say that stimulus spending doesn’t crate jobs, nationally, they’re presumably talking about net job creation, factoring in the job-destroying consequences of taxation.

    Uh no, again. Republicans have repeatedly asserted that government is unable to create jobs. And given the fact we’ve seen government as the biggest sector decreasing its employment counts since 2007 which has not led to healthy private sector job growth, their astonishing dishonesty and divorce from reality (government employees like the military and teachers) is worthy of our condemnation. The nuance you infer exists with Republicans does not reconcile with their actual rhetoric. See Exhibit 1, the quote above from Rep. Ryan which I cite.

  10. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    One can argue as to whether deficit spending stimulates the economy but that’s not the argument that Mr. Paul is making.

    Well no, that’s not true given the factors encountered in this recession. We’re not discussing opinions here but facts. Those elements which make up stimulus packages are measurable in regards to their impact on aggregate demand and therefore GDP. E.g., extension of unemployment benefits, increased food stamps, temporary payroll witholding tax cuts, infrastructure spending, permanent tax cuts at various income quintiles, federal funds to states to keep teachers, fire-fighters, etc. on the payroll, etc.

  11. says

    Michael Heath “The fact the president continues to promote a stimulative fiscal policy approach which Republicans have been able to successfully obstruct since 2010 should be one of the biggest stories of our times.”
    Now you’re just being ridiculous. They were fairly successful at it before that.

    “Republicans have repeatedly asserted that government is unable to create jobs. And given the fact we’ve seen government as the biggest sector decreasing its employment counts since 2007…”
    See? Government can’t even create it’s own jobs.

    “…which has not led to healthy private sector job growth…”
    That’s because Obama once called some bankers “fat cats”. The Galts of the USA, you see, are both the strongest, greatest, handsomest, smartest men in the world, and they’re also brittle little flowers. Obama shattered them by only bending to most of their whims, rather than all of them.
    The only solution that I can see is tax cuts. And gutting Title X.

  12. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    As a matter of fact, Rethuglicans like Paul Ryan actually believe that deficit spending stimulates the economy, provided it is implemented in the form of tax cuts. This is the whole basis of supply side economics and the Laffler [sic] curve.

    Supply side economics goes way beyond how Republicans mangle the lesson of the Laffer curve. Bruce Bartlett’s last book explains the successful aspects of supply-side economics which have been incorporated into mainstream economic thinking.

    In addition Rep. Ryan in the comment I quote above rejects the notion that Democrats can stimulate the economy with tax cuts. That’s given tax cuts were about 37% of the stimulus package. So he deserves no quarter from us when it comes to the idea that increased deficits due to tax cuts in a recession stimulate the economy. If he said the 2009 stimulus was about 33% – 40% effective we’d deserve some relief, but he didn’t.

  13. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath

    The fact is that the Rethuglicans have argued for 30 years that tax cuts that they claim temporarily lead to deficit spending stimulate the economy. Ryan is no exception. Their argument is that the tax cuts will stimulate the economy and lead to growth in revenues that eventually will eliminate the temporary deficits. That was Laffer’s supply side argument. The issue isn’t tax cuts or government spending, it’s deficit spending. The fact is that, despite their rhetoric, the Rethuglicans are just as much in favor of deficit spending as their opponents. They only differ in how the deficits are to be achieved. The fact is that the only strategy employed in the last 60 years that led to elimination of deficit spending occurred in the Clinton Administration and involved tax increases and reductions in the rate of growth of government expenditures.

  14. Paul W., OM says

    OK, let me correct and amend something.

    I characterized the stimulus as a tax-and-spend thing, and I was literally wrong. It’s just a spend thing.

    But spending has its indirect costs, e.g., increasing the debt load on the nation as a whole, and you can think of that as like a tax—it costs “everybody,” one way or another. (Or mostly their kids, or something.)

    When non-batshit conservatives are against that sort of borrow-and-spend policy, nationally, and say that it “doesn’t create jobs,” they’re talking about net effects, factoring in costs of servicing debt, maybe inflation, higher interest rates undermining capitalization, etc., etc. You can’t just print money without it costing something somewhere, and more or less everywhere.

    (Don’t get me wrong. I’m a Keynesian, myself, and I think that deficit spending in a recession does create jobs, net. That’s not what I’m arguing about.)

    Whether you tax and spend or borrow and spend, the non-batshit conservative idea is that you’re sucking wealth out of the national economy in general somehow, and putting it back in, in particular places.

    They argue that if you shouldn’t do that, but if you’re going to suck wealth out of all the states, they want you to put it back in in their states, too.

    That makes my argument a bit weaker, but I think it still works.

    When a state asks for its cut of borrow-and-spend stimulus money, conservative thinking says that yes, it will destroy more jobs nationally than it creates locally.

    Is it hypocritical to want that? Not necessarily. It depends on your values, in particular whether you value national utility over inter-state fairness.

    They’re saying it’s unfair to borrow everybody’s money and spend it on some states but not others. Yes, borrowing money and spending it in a given state does decrease jobs nationally, net, but it increases jobs locally, net.

    There’s no contradiction there.

    So, for example, suppose you suck 100 Kjobs worth of wealth out of the average state, and create only 90 Kjobs per state with the money you borrowed.

    If an average state turns down the stimulus money, so that it doesn’t have to be borrowed, that saves 100 Kjobs nationally worth of debt costs, but only saves that state 2 Kjobs worth of debt, and costs 90 Kjobs worth of benefits, so they’re 88 Kjobs worse off than if they accepted the stimulus money.

    If they accept the stimulus money, they’ll be a little worse off, and so will everyone else. If they reject it, they’ll be a lot worse off, and everyone else will be a little less worse off.

    It’s a classic commons problem.

    The non-batshit conservative view is that the states are selling each other out, loading each other up with debt, with the result of a net loss in jobs nationally.

    But each state is put in a position of either selling out the other states, or shouldering an unfair burden of letting those other states cost them even more jobs, without getting their share of the partially compensating job creation.

    Even conservatives generally know that spending creates jobs in the obvious sense—you hire people, or buy a lot of stuff, and that obviously creates some jobs. Non-batshit conservatives just think it doesn’t create as many jobs as it destroys, in the big picture.

    When conservative states’ politicians say it’s their job to ask for the money, they’re not wrong. They shouldn’t let other states sell them down the river. (E.g., liberal states voting to borrow nationally and spend locally in liberal states, costing but not benefiting the conservative states who reject their share of the money.)

    The non-batshit conservative view is that the stimulus program creates a commons problem for the states, where it would be better if we all didn’t do it at all, but unreasonable to expect any state any state to opt out of the benefits while still incurring almost of the same costs.

  15. Paul W., OM says

    Michael Heath:

    When non-batshit conservatives say that stimulus spending doesn’t crate jobs, nationally, they’re presumably talking about net job creation, factoring in the job-destroying consequences of taxation.

    Uh no, again. Republicans have repeatedly asserted that government is unable to create jobs.

    Apply the principle of charity just a tiny bit. Sure, some Republicans are completely insane, but most recognize that government spending creates jobs in the obvious first-order sense—e.g., post office jobs, public school teacher jobs, construction jobs for highway programs, etc., etc.

    Everybody knows that, even most Republicans.

    When non-batshit Republicans they say that spending “doesn’t create jobs,” they’re not talking about that. They’re talking macroeconomics and net jobs after factoring in the job-destroying consequences of taxation or borrowing.

    Let’s not straw-man the conservatives.

  16. Paul W., OM says

    Raging Bee:

    If they’re going to be taxed, which destroys jobs, then they want their share of the spending, which creates some jobs, in partial compensation.

    If the actual use of tax revenues creates jobs, then you cannot maintain that taxation destroys jobs.

    WTF? Sure you can.

    Borrowing or taxing destroys some jobs, and spending the money creates some jobs. There is simply no contradiction there.

    The key question is whether you create more jobs than you destroy.

    If spending the money creates fewer jobs than the taxation or borrowing destroys, then you can certainly maintain that taxation destroys jobs (net).

    I don’t think it’s true in the circumstances we’re talking about, but I don’t think it’s contradictory to maintain those things.

  17. Paul W., OM says

    Raging Bee:

    That’s just one more huge hole in Republitarian fiscal ideology: government spending of tax revenues, in fact, creates more US jobs per dollar than the same amount of money spent on consumer goods, since US and state governments don’t tend to import cops, firefighters, soldiers, sailors, pilots, construction workers, bureaucrats…

    BTW, I agree with this. I just think it’s something the Republicans are flat wrong about—supply-side economics is mostly bullshit—rather than thinking they’re hypocritical for wanting their share of the stimulus.

  18. Paul W., OM says

    Michael Heath:

    Please blockquote that which you attempt to rebut. If you did you’d find your argument fails given what Ed already argued, which was:

    Of course he should help get federal grants for his constituents. But he did so on the grounds that the money for those projects would help create jobs in his district, while simultaneously, and continuously, claiming that such spending did not create jobs nationally. Virtually every Republican in Congress did the same thing. They apparently want people to believe that they represent a magical place where stimulus spending creates jobs, but that similar spending on projects in any other district or state mysteriously do not create any jobs. That’s convenient, but clearly ridiculous.[…]

    The beginning of the part you quoted is the part I was disagreeing with.

    You don’t have to be a hypocrite to think that both of the following are true:

    1. Taxing or borrowing nationally and spending locally decreases jobs nationally, net.

    2. Taxing or borrowing nationally and spending in one place increasing jobs locally, net.

    E.g., if I borrow 2 K jobs worth of money per state and spend the resulting 100K jobs worth of money in one state, I may only create 90K jobs in that state, but I’ll get a net 88K job increase in that state, but a 10K net job loss nationally.

    You certainly don’t have to think your state is “a magical place” where stimulus spending creates jobs. You just have to think that the costs are borne elsewhere.

    It’s just a commons problem, not magic.

  19. Quodlibet says

    As I read the OP, my mind generated a disturbing series of thoughts and images:

    Liars. They are liars. Liar, liar, liar.

    Liar liar, pants on fire.

    Their pants will ignite.

    They need asbestos underwear.

    Romney already wears magic underwear.

    He should get some custom-made underwear, made with asbestos.

    Ryan, too.

    Huh, now I’m envisioning them each wearing the patented Magical Fire-Resistant Liar’s Undergarment (TM), with a drop-bottom, made with asbestos. Itchy and grey and tormenting them constantly, like hair shirts.

  20. says

    I am the only one who’s getting the sense that Paul W. is either a RWALibertarobot or a cocern troll.

    Fuck Paul Ryan. He’s a liar, first order. He uses weaselwords and denial to attempt to cover/justify his hypocrisy–and, yeah, that’s all it is, is fucking hypocrisy cake with a frosting of bullshit.

    Ryan is willing to fuck everyone on SS,SSD,SSI, medicare, medicaid and other social welfare programs to put a few (lot) more bucks into his own pockets and the pockets of his wealthy owners. However, he certainly was happy to collect Social Security benefits after his father’s untimely death, and use them to pay for college. Fuck Paul Ryan.

  21. Paul W., OM says

    I am the only one who’s getting the sense that Paul W. is either a RWALibertarobot or a cocern troll.

    I sure hope so.

    BTW, the OM in my ‘nym means “Order of Molly.” Not likely I’d be either an RWA or just a concern troll, and unlikely I’d be a libertarian troll.

    FWIW, I’m a left liberal who utterly loathes Ryan and Romney. (And my main problems with Obama are that he’s not nearly left enough, and he’s too authoritarian.)

    I just think we sound stupid if we strawman the right wingers.

    There’s all kinds of things wrong with Ryan, including being way wrong about economics, and his lying about what he’s actually done and not done. We don’t need to make a reasonable response to a commons problem into “hypocrisy.”

    (Again, don’t get me wrong—I’m a Keynesian and very much pro-stimulus—I think Obama et al. didn’t go nearly far enough—and I think Ryan’s position is way, way wrong for fundamental reasons. I’m also perfectly happy to call Ryan a hypocrite about things he’s actually hypocritical about.)

    If not liking bad arguments from the good guys makes me a “concern troll,” so be it.

    And one reason I give a shit about people understanding commons problems in particular is that it’s crucial for justifying redistributionist and/or socialistic policies.

    We shouldn’t fuck up by not recognizing commons problems if we want people to recognize the importance and implications of commons problems.

    Calling people hypocrites for responding reasonably to commons problems is a standard tactic of RWAs and libertarians. (E.g., in arguing for voluntary charity instead of progressive taxes—non-poor liberals are supposedly “hypocrites” for wanting to tax everybody but not being willing to just give their own money away.)

    That’s why I’m very much against such incorrect namecalling.

  22. says

    I’m assuming your “Order of Molly” refers to Molly Ivins rather than the U.S. Army’s Field Artillery.

    Regardless; Paul Ryan IS an idiot compared to most economists, on the subject of econmomics, that’s pretty much a given. He is, ALSO, a goddamned hypocrite. I certainly can understand someone wanting to see the bright side of some situation; with Ryan there IS no bright side.

    His hypocrisy is pretty GOP Gold Standard level.

  23. says

    democommie “I’m assuming your ‘Order of Molly’ refers to Molly Ivins rather than the U.S. Army’s Field Artillery.”
    Molly McButter. It’s pretty good if you mix it with actual butter. Then deep fry it. Mmmm, mmmm, good for you.

  24. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    The fact is that the Rethuglicans have argued for 30 years that tax cuts that they claim temporarily lead to deficit spending stimulate the economy. Ryan is no exception. Their argument is that the tax cuts will stimulate the economy and lead to growth in revenues that eventually will eliminate the temporary deficits. That was Laffer’s supply side argument.

    No it’s not Laffer’s argument. As I pointed out previous to your post and which you ignored, the Republicans are mangling his argument. Specifically because Laffer never asserted a change in the top marginal rate from 39.6% to 35% would increase federal revenues to more economic growth. Laffer’s a joke so I hate defending him because he’s wrong in a way that reminds me of Ben Stein, but Republicans are effectively quote-mining Laffer’s explanation of the curve. A curve where he and all others fail to model when a marginal change in the effective rate will change federal revenues from more or less. Most economists generally speculate that point is around the mid-50s to low-70s rate.

  25. eoraptor013 says

    Michael Heath @2:
    Apparently because doing so advances their political success and/or they’re so uninformed and misinformed about basic economics.

    You forgot one other, and probably most significant, issue: There’s a Black family living in the White House, and they aren’t in the domestics’ quarters. There really is no other explanation for all the hatred and fear swirling about the country.

  26. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #24

    As I understand it, the Laffer argument is based on the following observations. A tax rate of 0 yields 0 revenue; a tax rate of 100% also yields 0 revenue. This is a totally non-controversial position. Laffer then proposed a curve that connected the two points, assuming that the first derivative of the curve was a monotonically increasing function of the tax rate. Thus he argued, there was some point on this curve that would maximize government income. Tax at a higher rate and government income goes down. Tax at a lower rate and government income also goes down. The problem is that that he assumes an optimization problem with one independent variable, the tax rate, and one dependent variable, government income with no constraints. In addition, there is the unsupported assumption that the response surface of the problem has a monotonically increasing first derivative, as a function of the tax rate.

    It would take up considerable space to detail everything that is wrong with this greatly oversimplified system, which I recall we have hashed out in previous threads. Suffice it to say that there are few economists who take it seriously.

    Having bad mouthed Laffer at some length, he did point out something that should be non-controversial, namely that increasing taxes will not necessarily increase government income and that decreasing taxes may actually increase government income. I think that this part of Laffer’s argument is sound.

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