In his speech to his party’s convention last night, Rep. Paul Ryan falsely accused Pres. Obama of allowing a GM plant that built SUVs in Janesville, Wisc., Ryan’s hometown, to close.
But Ryan omitted at least two key facts in his prosecution of the president. One: GM announced it was closing the plant in June 2008, fully six months before Pres. Obama took office. And two: it was Paul Ryan, not the president, who tried and failed to convince GM to keep the plant open:
In September 2008, as Wall Street was roiling with calamity, Rep. Paul D. Ryan was facing another looming disaster back home.
A General Motors plant, the lifeblood of his hometown, was set to close. The huge Suburbans and Tahoes from the Janesville production line were no longer in vogue. The aging plant was to stop production by Christmas — unless Ryan and other Wisconsin officials could save it.
Ryan, then the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee, flew to Detroit to cajole GM executives. For more than an hour, he and other officials made a PowerPoint proposal that mixed union concessions with unprecedented state and local tax breaks for GM.
“We put an enormous package on the table,” said then-Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle, a Democrat, of the state-led effort…
Despite his paeans to free markets, Ryan voted for $14 billion in emergency federal loans to help bail out the auto industry during the waning days of the George W. Bush administration.
Ryan was closely involved in a task force that helped craft two incentive packages with large state tax breaks for GM, and personally lobbied GM executives to accept the bids.
“I would say Congressman Ryan did what a good member of Congress would do for his district,” Doyle said. He added that like many other Republicans, Ryan made sure to “complain about the so-called stimulus and bailouts while also lining up to make sure their districts were getting taken care of.”
Ryan’s record of seeking federal money for his district came under close scrutiny last week after he denied and then acknowledged requesting money available under the $800-billion stimulus bill passed by Congress in 2009. Ryan had voted against the bill, and decried it as wasteful. In a statement Thursday, he said constituents’ requests for stimulus funds “should have been handled differently.”
A Ryan aide, who asked for anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the issue, said that although Ryan’s proposed budget plan promises to take the federal government “out of the business of picking winners and losers in the marketplace,” he makes a distinction between what is appropriate for the federal and state governments. Ryan believes states are free to compete for business as they see fit, the aide said.
GM closed the Janesville plant for one simple reason: It produced SUVs, and the market for the gas-guzzling Suburbans and Tahoes built there was cratering. But here again Paul Ryan’s hands are filthy.The economy collapsed in 2008 because of the anti-regulatory policies of the Bush White House that were rubberstamped by Republicans in Congress like Ryan, who was a member of the House budget committee, and voted in lockstep to approve every item on Bush’s unfunded $5 trillion spending spree.
During Obama’s term, Ryan was appointed ranking member on the Budget Committee in 2007 and became chairman after the tea-party takeover in 2010. As chairman, Ryan was instrumental in the GOP congressional leadership team’s strategy of obstructing Pres. Obama’s efforts to spur economic recovery from the recession, which was caused by their own anti-regulatory and borrow-and-spend policies.
Ryan, along with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnnell of Kentucky, House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and others, put their number one objective — making Obama a one-term president — ahead of the interests of their constituents, including the residents of Janesville, who were facing layoffs, bankruptcies and foreclosures.