The Associated Press has a report on thousands and thousands of pages of letters written by Rep. Paul Ryan to dozens of government agencies seeking funding for all kinds of projects in his district — the same kind of projects he derides on the campaign trail as wasteful spending to special interest groups.
Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan is a fiscal conservative, champion of small government and critic of federal handouts. But as a congressman in Wisconsin, Ryan lobbied for tens of millions of dollars on behalf of his constituents for the kinds of largess he’s now campaigning against, according to an Associated Press review of 8,900 pages of correspondence between Ryan’s office and more than 70 executive branch agencies.
For 12 years in the House, Ryan wrote to federal agencies supporting expansion of food stamps in his Wisconsin district. He supported city officials and everyday constituents who sought stimulus grants, federally guaranteed business loans, grants to invest in green technology and money under the health care law he opposes…
“Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland or on windmills in China?” Ryan said. “Was it a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like China and spend it on all these various different interest groups?”
Yet the AP’s review of Ryan’s congressional correspondence showed that he sought stimulus funding on behalf of residents and at one point told federal regulators that cutting a stimulus grant in his district at the 11th hour would be “economically devastating.”
This isn’t just about the stimulus bill, it’s about a huge range of loans and grants from programs before and after that law that Ryan’s office has helped constituents get their hands on. His argument during the VP debate was that this was just a matter of a congressman’s office routinely helping constituents, and he’s right. But it reveals the basic hypocrisy of all these claims about the stimulus bill and pork barrel spending in general. Republican legislators in particular love to complain about such spending, but only when it’s in other districts. When the money is spent in other districts and other states, it’s wasteful spending being used to pay off contributors and special interests; when the money goes to their own district or state, it’s entirely justified government service on behalf of constituents that will create jobs and economic growth. Spending in other districts, obviously, does not create jobs or growth. It’s like they all think their district exists at the center of some sort of political singularity.
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