Paul Ryan praised stimulus spending in letters to Obama official

By Stephen C. Webster
Wednesday, August 15, 2012 10:31 EDT
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Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney speak to CBS News
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Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) asked the Obama administration for millions from the $840 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to help an energy conservation company in Wisconsin, telling his constituents the money would help “create or retain approximately 7,600 new jobs” in his district for up to  six years.

Despite repeatedly requesting funds and praising the stimulus in correspondence with the Obama administration, Ryan has consistently criticized the policy in public, calling it a failure and insisting that it has created no jobs and in fact only “made things worse.” On the other hand, just one year after the stimulus passed the Council of Economic Advisers published an analysis that said President Barack Obama’s Recovery Act was responsible for creating or saving more than 3 million American jobs.

Ryan’s criticism might be called into question after reading letters he wrote to Steven Chu, the Obama administration’s energy secretary, asking for stimulus funds. The letters were obtained by Boston Globe reporters Bryan Bender and Brian MacQuarrie, who note that in one Ryan actually says he’s “pleased” that the Obama administration had made energy conservation and reducing carbon emissions a priority, saying it will “stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs.”

Ryan’s own budget plan (PDF), however, proposes significant cuts to funding for clean energy programs like solar, wind and geothermal energy programs — a point made by Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) during a Tuesday appearance on CNBC. “The private sector won’t pony up unless we have things like loan guarantees for risky projects,” he said.

Ryan’s advocacy ultimately triggered a $20 million grant for the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation, which helps train and finance home and business owners who want to make their structures more efficient, and provides financing for renewable energy projects.

“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,” a Romney campaign spokesperson told the Globe.

In addition, Ryan voted for President Bush’s $700 billion bailout of the nation’s largest banks, the Troubled Asset Relief Fund, and pleaded with his House colleagues to pass it. “This bill offends my principles,” he said. “But I’m going to vote for this bill in order to preserve my principles, in order to preserve this free enterprise system. This is a Herbert Hoover moment. He made some big mistakes after the Great Depression, and we lived those consequences for decades. Let’s not make that mistake.”

Ryan’s budget calls TARP a “slush fund for large private institutions” that’s “morphed into crony capitalism at its worst,” even though his running mate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, claims that it saved the U.S. from entering another Great Depression.

While much of the TARP funds have been recovered through loan repayments and asset sales, the U.S. Treasury said Monday that taxpayers will still ultimately be out more than $47 billion overall once the program winds down.

Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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