For the right wing in America, a fact is something that gets said enough times on Fox News in order for viewers to confidently repeat it.
That’s why it’s easy to take a lie like “the stimulus failed” and turn it into a right-wing “fact”. Start by callling it “the failed stimulus” even before the bill goes into effect. Then keep repeating that same phrase, even as we go from losing 800,000 jobs a month to creating private sector jobs for 29 months. With Fox News, AM talk radio, and nearly one billion dollars in commercials, mailings and robocalls, you can effectively transform the most effective government economic intervention since the New Deal into some bad gas no one wants to claim.
In his new book The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era, Michael Grunwald uncovers the nearly endless list of hidden successes in the bill still called a “failure” by the Bush admirers who still think Dubya’s far more expensive and useless tax breaks and wars were a success:
“The stimulus is producing the world’s largest wind farm, a half dozen of the world’s largest solar arrays, and America’s first refineries for advanced biofuels. It’s creating a battery-manufacturing industry for electric vehicles almost entirely from scratch. It financed net-zero border stations and visitors centers, an eco-friendly new Coast Guard headquarters, a one-of-a-kind ‘advanced synchrotron light source.’ It jump-started three long-awaited mega-projects in Manhattan alone—the Moynihan Station, the Second Avenue Subway, and the Long Island Railroad connection to the East Side…”
The difference between the stimulus and the New Deal—and the reason the New Deal remains more popular—is that the stimulus was passed and implemented during the worst of the crisis. The New Deal came after two years of Hoover trying to balance the budget instead of healing the economy.
But what Paul Ryan—the ideological leader of the House Republicans—never mentioned is that while he and the GOP were bashing the stimulus, and repeating the lie, he was begging for stimulus dollars.
Paul Ryan’s love of stimulus began back when George W. Bush was president, which was when Ryan was still in love with everything government did. In 2002, amid a slow economy that was getting almost no help from the tax breaks on which the GOP had blown the Clinton surplus, Paul Ryan called for more stimulus. “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,” he said.
Cut to seven years later, after all of the failed policies supported by Ryan resulted in the worst financial crisis in half a century: then, Ryan refused to support the President’s stimulus bill. As a member of the right-wing cabal that met with Frank Luntz and Newt Gingrich on the night of the inauguration, Ryan had agreed to oppose anything the President propose. He bashed the President’s stimulus for increasing the deficit yet voted for a $715 billion alternative. Why? Because the President didn’t support it.
Ryan never opposed stimulus; he opposed the President. And this fact became embarrassingly obvious over the past few days when Ryan was forced to admit that he’d requested stimulus funds for his district in 2009.
In five separate letters signed by Ryan, the Congressman asked for stimulus funds for his district. In one of the letters, he stated that the funds he requested would create approximately 7,600 new jobs. Ultimately he was rewarded with over $20 million in funds for his district.
In 2010, he was asked directly if his district had received any stimulus funding. Ryan said, “No, I’m not one [of those] people who votes for something then writes to the government to ask them to send us money. I did not request any stimulus money.” He repeated various versions of denying the requests and not remembering them until he was faced with the actual letters.
Now he says that the requests were “treated as constituent service requests in the same way matters involving Social Security or Veterans Affairs are handled. This is why I didn’t recall the letters earlier. But they should have been handled differently, and I take responsibility for that.”
So he’s basically blaming his staff for not pointing out that the letter he was signing was allegedly against everything he believed in. But Paul Ryan’s staff knew something Fox News viewers don’t: Paul Ryan loves stimulus spending, as long as it doesn’t help the President.
Image credit: AP Photo/Phil Long, File