A decade before becoming Mitt Romney’s running mate and years before he emerged as one of the most prominent anti-stimulus spending conservatives in Congress, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) once gave a forceful defense of the same spending he now decries.
Ryan has blasted the stimulus package signed by President Obama in early 2009, saying it was a waste of money that failed to get the economy moving again. Not only has he claimed that that specific stimulus failed, but he’s attacked the very idea of such spending as being, “out of the discredited economic playbook of borrow and spend Keynesian policies.”
But back in 2002, Ryan had a far different opinion of stimulus spending when then-President Bush sought to spur the economy with a $120 billion package of tax cuts, tax incentives more robust unemployment benefits. Not only did Ryan defend that stimulus package at the time, but he also defended the idea that government intervention is a “time-tested,” necessary step to jumpstart the economy following a recession.
“What we’re trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed,” Ryan said of the 2002 stimulus.
“What we have been trying to do…is to try and get people back to work. The things we’re trying to pass in this bill are the time-tested, proven, bipartisan solutions to get businesses to stop laying off people, to hire people back, and to help those people who’ve lost their jobs,” he added.
As Chris Hayes also noted, Ryan at the time told a local newspaper he supported the stimulus because, “you have to spend a little to grow a little.”
Those remarks seem to directly contradict the totally hands-off approach Ryan now espouses. His reversal may not be all too surprising in light of reports that, upon Obama’s inauguration, high-ranking Republicans formed a pact to refuse to cooperate with Obama on just about anything during his presidency.
Jon Terbush is a Boston-based writer whose work has appeared in Talking Points Memo, Business Insider, the New Haven Register, and elsewhere. He tweets about politics, cats, and baseball via @jonterbush.
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