Stimulus problem adds to Paul Ryan’s woes


We talked on Tuesday about Republican vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan having a stimulus problem: publicly, he claims to abhor President Obama’s Recovery Act, but privately, he sought Recovery Act funds for his district and said they’d boost the economy.

Last night, Rachel took the story much further, noting among other things that Ryan has been caught lying about the issue – more than once.

Again, let’s not forget what makes this story important. It’s not just a simple matter of a congressman opposing the stimulus, but then seeking investments for his constituents once the money was on the table and was going to be spent anyway. Appearances of hypocrisy are perhaps the least important part of the story.

Rather, the controversy matters for two important reasons. First, the revelations undermine the basis for Ryan’s philosophical/ideological objections – the Republican insists government spending can’t create jobs and doesn’t boost economic growth, but in his letters to the Obama administration, Ryan said government spending in his district can create jobs and does boost economic growth.

And second, Ryan got caught lying about his efforts – twice. In 2010, Ryan specifically said he would not vote against something “then write to the government to ask them to send us money…. I did not request any stimulus money.” In reality, Ryan penned at least five letters to two federal departments seeking grants under Obama’s Recovery Act.

Yesterday, talking to a reporter in Ohio, Ryan again said, “No, I never asked for stimulus,” even though he got called out for telling this same lie two years ago.

Late yesterday, hoping to make the problem go away, Ryan said in a statement that he “didn’t recall” his efforts, because they were “treated as constituent service requests.”

So, Ryan lied twice about letters that contradict his entire governing philosophy, but he doesn’t think it should be held against him because he was mistakenly trying to help his constituents with public investments that would create jobs in his district.

He’s off to a great start as a candidate for national office, isn’t he?