When Ryan loved the stimulus


As last night’s debate turned to the economy, Paul Ryan seemed eager to condemn the Obama administration’s policies. Vice President Biden seemed even more eager to remind the Republican congressman about his record of requesting stimulus funds from the Recovery Act he claims to abhor.

“On two occasions we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants,” Ryan grudgingly conceded. “That’s what we do.”

As it turns out, the whole story is pretty amusing, though the right may not fully appreciate why. Remember this segment from August?

It’s not just that Ryan advocated for constituents who were applying for grants, as all members of Congress do; he also argued at the time that government spending creates jobs and boosts the economy – the exact opposite that Ryan now claims to find so offensive.

Worse, the far-right lawmaker soon after got caught lying about the requests for funds.

And just to add insult to injury, our friends at “Up With Chris Hayes” uncovered a 2002 clip in which Ryan said he loved the idea of economic stimulus from the federal government. “You have to spend a little to grow a little,” Ryan argued 10 years ago.

Seriously, that’s what he said.

Just to reiterate a point from August, hypocrisy is the least of the problems here. What matters is the fact that Paul Ryan’s vaunted economic principles, wonky approaches to government, and entire political philosophy seems to be dictated by the party of the president at the time. When Bush is in office, government spending creates jobs and grows the economy; when Obama is in office; government spending undermines the job market and stunts growth.

Ryan has principles, but they’re easily discarded and replaced with contradictory ones so long as he’s advancing a partisan agenda. It’s the difference between a wonk and a hack.

Update: Ryan said there were “two” occasions. In reality, it was four. He’s not great with numbers.