Friday night on "The Rachel Maddow Show," host Rachel Maddow welcomed "Up with Chris Hayes" host Chris Hayes for a discussion about the unraveling of the hype surrounding vice presidential candidate Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), as well as the conservative "small government" myth, which Hayes called an argument for "suckers."
The segment began with video of Ryan stating unequivocally that he never asked for stimulus funds for Wisconsin and further declaring that he's "not one of those people who votes for something, then writes to the government asking them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money."
Which, actually, he did, as Vice President Joe Biden pointed out in Thursday night's vice presidential debate.
"There seems to be sometimes a desire on the part of the Romney campaign and an equal desire sometimes among liberals and on the Obama campaign to talk about this grand ideological battle about the size of government," said Hayes.
The problem is that nothing on the record shows that this is what Republicans actually intend to do, he said. Under Reagan and the Bushes, government spending grew rather than shrank, becoming a larger portion of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The national debt ballooned under Republican presidents as well.
The real question we should be asking, according to Hayes, is "Who will government benefit?"
"Do not let yourself get suckered into the belief that this is a battle over how big government is going to be," he said. "I don't think that's what's on the table. What's on the table is, 'Are the poor going to see their Medicaid cut and the Pentagon's going to get two trillion dollars? Or is the balance going to be in the other direction."
"It's not just a false debate about the size of government," agreed Maddow. "It's a false debate about whether or not government works."
The most damning thing about the letters from Ryan to Biden was not that he was asking for the stimulus money, she said, but that in the letters, he stated that the policy works, that it would create jobs and promote growth.
Hayes said that no matter how much Republicans claim they're going to combate government corruption and inefficiency, once in office they never do so.
Watch the video, embedded via MSNBC, below: