One of the people to speak loudest lately against any stimulus program to boost the economy is Paul Ryan. He has referred to recent stimulus programs as "sugar-high economics” and a “wasteful spending spree.” He holds that his claims and condemnations are based on the facts, and have nothing to do with the person proposing the stimulus programs. It is a matter of principle.
But in 2002, when George W Bush was proposing a stimulus to boost a slow economy, Paul Ryan’s sentiments were completely the opposite to now when it is President Obama proposing the same thing.
In 2002 he said, "What we're trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed. 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 also held at that time that, "In recessions unemployment lags on well after a recovery has taken place.”
While Vice President Joe Biden is saying the government needs to spend more now to reduce deficits in the long run, he is being ridiculed by the Republicans, including Ryan. But in 2002 when the Republicans were pushing for a stimulus Ryan called this a “constructive answer”. Ryan even said that those who opposed a stimulus needed to "drop the demagoguery."
His full statement then was, "We've got to get the engine of economic growth growing again because we now know, because of recession, we don't have the revenues that we wanted to, we don't have the revenues we need, to fix Medicare, to fix Social Security, to fix these issues. We've got to get Americans back to work. Then the surpluses come back, then the jobs come back. That is the constructive answer we're trying to accomplish here on, yes, a bipartisan basis. I urge members to drop the demagoguery and to pass this bill to help us work together to get the American people back to work and help those people who've lost their jobs. We have a lot of laid off workers, and more layoffs are occurring. And we know, as a historical fact, that even if our economy begins to slowly recover, unemployment is going to linger on and on well after that recovery takes place. What we have been trying to do starting in October and into December and now is to try and get people back to work. The things we're trying to pass in this bill are the time-tested, proven, bipartisan solutions to get businesses to stop laying off people, to hire people back, and to help those people who have lost their jobs."
But now the president is Obama, and Mitch McConnell has stated that the priority of the Republican party is to insure that President Obama is a one term president. Obviously, even though they believe as Ryan articulated that the programs of President Obama are the right ones, it does not fit their goal to support them. Since they cannot argue against themselves, they just act as if they have never said what they had said publicly in the past.
Ryan has even voted against some of the very things he spoke of as essential. He has voted not to extend unemployment benefits and not to help laid-off workers pay for health insurance by subsidizing COBRA payments.
Ryan said under Bush, "It's more than just giving someone an unemployment check. It's also helping those people with their health insurance while they've lost their jobs and more important than just that unemployment check, it's to do what we can to give people a paycheck."
At a congressional hearing in 2001, in making a pro-stimulus argument he said,"I think we ought to have this income tax cut fast, deeper, retroactive to January 1st, to make sure we get a good punch into the economy, juice the economy to make sure that we can avoid a hard landing,"
So what changed? Not the conditions or the need, not even the effectiveness of a stimulus. What changed is that the president is a Democrat and the Republicans want him to fail. The American worker be damned.