Rep. Paul Ryan is a vocal critic of President Obama’s stimulus bill. As one of the GOP’s most outspoken critics of government spending, he has not only argued that the stimulus did not work, but that the entire premise of deficit spending to jump-start the economy is flawed.
But in 2002, Ryan sang a different tune.
When President George W. Bush pushed a stimulus package in 2002 in order to shore up the staggering economy, Ryan urged his Republican House colleagues to pass the bill. In a floor speech dug up by MSNBC host Chris Hayes, Ryan made the case for deficit spending in order to extend unemployment benefits and stimulate job creation.
“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. “What we’re trying to accomplish is to pass the kinds of legislation that when they’ve passed in the past have grown the economy and gotten people back to work.”
As Hayes noted, Ryan has since changed his mind about stimulus spending. “Too many are searching for answers in the discredited economic playbook of borrow and spend Keynesian policies,” Ryan said in 2010.
Ryan’s position on the 2009 stimulus bill, too, has been re-examined since he was added to the GOP ticket. Ryan voted against the stimulus in 2009, but then requested funds for his home state once the bill had been signed into law. Ryan initially denied having requested stimulus funds, then admitted he had and apologized when confronted with the letters.
“[T]hey should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that,” Ryan said in a statement. “Regardless, it’s clear that the Obama stimulus did nothing to stimulate the economy, and now the president is asking to do it all over again.”
Pema Levy is a News Writer at TPM covering the 2012 election. Before coming to TPM, Pema was an assistant editor at The American Prospect where she wrote about politics and the economy.