by Tommy Christopher Newly-minted vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan was already having a bad first week of running-matery when he told a reporter that he ânever asked for stimulus,â only to be later confronted with letters in which he did exactly that, letters in which he extolled the job-creating virtues of stimulus funds. On Sunday morningâs Up with Chris Hayes, host Chris Hayes
dug Ryanâs shovel-ready hole a little deeper with some devastating
archival videos that show Ryan arguing for stimulus more forcefully than
With the Romney/Ryan ticket already losing the fight they knew they were going to have, they needed this stimulus story like they needed a knife in their Grannyâs necks. When Ryan told an Ohio TV reporter
that he ânever asked for stimulus,â however, he opened a can of worms
the size of Cleveland. Ryan also told that local reporter that he
âopposed the stimulus because it doesnât work.â
As it turned out, Ryan had secured tens of millions of dollars in stimulus funds by writing letters
praising the program. Ryanâs office explained that he was just trying
to help some of his constituents outâŚwith something that he says
Thatâs pretty bad, but âa constituent made me do itâ is the kind of
answer that might satisfy people, especially the Ryan-enthralled
mainstream media. Enter Chris Hayes, who set the table with a 2010 clip
of Ryan blasting âborrow and spendâ policies as a failed experiment,
followed by some Bush-era clips of Ryan forcefully advocating for those exact kinds of policies,
while also acknowledging that unemployment often drags on in a
recovery. The fact that Paul Ryan is making arguments in these clips
that could serve as campaign ads for President Obama isnât the most
surprising thing about these clips, though:
What is surprising is that, while Romney, Ryan, and the Republicans
are running around attacking the Presidentâs economic record, no one on
the Presidentâs side is making these arguments this well. Despite the fact that the stimulus did exactly what it was promised to do, and the fact that the Presidentâs job creation record since the Bush Effect wore off is
pretty damn good, the President and his team have downplayed them
because the political media has made the calculation that those arenât
winning arguments, that if things are still bad, people donât want to
hear how much worse they could have been. However, flat poll numbers for
Romney following recent poor jobs reports would seem to indicate that
people get that argument, to some extent.
As Hayes and panel also pointed out, itâs not as if 2002 Paul Ryan
came to Jesus after passing several stimulus packages under President
George W. Bush. In 2009, he voted in favor of a competing $715 billion Republican stimulus package.
Liberals are often too enamored with hypocrisy arguments, though, as
Hayes mentioned at the start of Saturdayâs show (but fir different
reasons). The notion of hypocrisy strikes at the character of the
hypocrite, rather than at the ideal theyâre not living up to. In my
view, these arguments obscure the real problems with Republican views
and policies, which is that theyâre wrong.
Donât judge Paul Ryan and Mit Romney on whether they have always
thought the same things they do now, or even on whether they magically,
coincidentally changed their minds when Barack Obama became president.
Listen to what Ryan said in 2002, or what Romney said in 2004, and what theyâre saying now, and decide, for yourselves, which of them makes more sense.
In 2002, Ryan said âWhat weâre trying to accomplish is to pass the
kinds of legislation that, in the past, have grown the economy and
gotten people back to work,â which is true, and verifiable. Now, he
insists the stimulus didnât work, despite the fact that he wrote letters
indicating the opposite, and despite the fact that the stimulus did exactly what it was designed to. Ignore the hypocrisy, and focus on the fact that Paul Ryan is beating himself in this argument.
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