When assessing which human characteristic is more disgusting, besides pedophilia and murder, hypocrisy and lying usually rank near the top of the list for most people. In fact, in the Christian bible, Jesus Christ condemned liars and hypocrites (Mt 24:51, 15:7) that he claimed were destined for eternal damnation, so one would expect so-called conservative Christian Republicans to avoid hypocrisy and lying to save their souls and maintain a semblance of integrity. For the past three years, Republicans have been fierce opponents of using government funds to stimulate the economy and create jobs as a matter of course, and they have, without exception, denounced President Obama’s stimulus they claim “doesn’t work, and didn’t work” to create jobs or stimulate the economy. Every time a Republican makes that assertion, they prove themselves to be liars and hypocrites, and John McCain and Paul Ryan provide the evidence to prove it.
The presumptive Republican vice-presidential nominee has been one of the harshest critics of using federal money to stimulate the economy, and last week in this column it was reported that although Ryan railed and voted against the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (stimulus), he begged the energy department in four separate letters for tens-of-millions of dollars to, as he put it, “create new jobs over the 3 year grant period and the subsequent 3 years, and help stimulate the economy” in Wisconsin. Now, one instance of condemning and voting against an economic stimulus and then begging for money is reason enough to impugn Ryan as a hypocrite, but just nine years ago, Ryan openly advocated for a third stimulus package during the Bush administration.
In the early 2000s, George W. Bush argued for more stimulus to boost a slow economy, and instead of condemning Bush’s request as a “monstrosity,” “wasteful spending,” and something he “opposed because it doesn’t work, it didn’t work,” Ryan said, “What we’re trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed.” Mr. Ryan also told an MSNBC interviewer that “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.” It is curious that Ryan’s economic analysis was entirely different in 2002 when his argument 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, 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.” The Bush stimulus passed, included a jobless benefit extension, and resulted in checks going out to millions of Americans in 2002.
Last Friday, Senator John McCain argued that government spending plays a key role in creating jobs and helping the economy while discussing last year’s sequestration that cuts $1.2 trillion in defense and non-defense discretionary spending to help pay down the nation’s debt. McCain said, “That kind of hit can have serious, serious consequences to our economy,” arguing that “over one million jobs could be lost without sustained government spending.” He continued that “We need to make the American people aware of the effects of this draconian measure that will have a $1 trillion effect on our economy. I don’t have to tell anybody here that our economy is fragile now.” McCain, like Paul Ryan and President Obama, understands what every economist has been saying for three-and-a-half years; in a recession, the best remedy to grow the economy and create jobs is government stimulus, and lots of it.
The truth of the matter is that in the three previous recessions in 1981, 1990, and 2001, public sector jobs increased while the economy was contracting because the government was spending money. In each recession, public sector jobs grew by 1% in 2001, 3% in 1990, and 3% in 1981 when the “socialist” Ronald Reagan was president. In the current recession, with Republicans obstructing any spending and enacting austerity measures, the public sector has lost over 750,000 jobs. Republicans are well-aware that economically, it is better for a school teacher, police officer, or fire fighter to earn and spend $50,000 annually than not working to put money into the economy, increase tax revenue, and create more private sector jobs, and no-one knows or promoted it more than the courageous budget-slashing economic guru Paul Ryan.
Ryan’s informed and impassioned plea for more stimulus to foster recovery in 2001 mirrors President Obama’s pitch for his jobs plans and more economic stimulus over the past couple of years. He said, “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 to do 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, and 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.” Since President Obama has been in office, Ryan voted against extending unemployment benefits, against helping laid-off workers pay for health insurance by subsidizing COBRA payments, against job programs, and any stimulus despite he begged for money after condemning it as a monstrosity.
There is more to Ryan and his Republican cohort’s hypocrisy and lying that should enrage every American struggling in the Bush-recession. Consider that every Republican who opposed infusing federal money into the economy, or obstructed President Obama’s jobs plans, knew they were stunting the economy and killing jobs and yet they dug in their heels and lied to the American people that stimulus does not work. There has been a concerted Republican effort to deliberately sabotage economic growth, jobs, and the welfare of the American people and it has been accompanied with rank hypocrisy and lies. The Republicans cannot claim ignorance or contend they are concerned over the rising national deficit because as Ryan said, economic stimulus is “time tested and proven” to get businesses to stop laying off workers and “hire people back.” It is also important to remember that throughout the Bush administration the Republican mantra was, as Dick Cheney said, “deficits don’t matter;” unless there is a Democrat in the White House who also happens to be an African American.
Republicans have argued from day one of President Obama’s term that there is no way government spending helps the economy or creates jobs and yet, John McCain decried cutting $1.2 trillion that adversely affects the economy and kills over a million jobs and Paul Ryan gave an impassioned appeal for stimulus to create jobs and grow the economy. Willard Romney has lied and asserted for over a year that President Obama has not created any new jobs, and promises to kill even more public sector jobs like teachers, police officers, and fire fighters that he considers “outside the real economy” if he is elected president, and it belies his assertion that his self-acclaimed business acumen gives him “special insight” into how to create jobs.
Republicans are despicable liars and hypocrites for knowing what it takes to spur economic growth and create jobs and deliberately obstructing every one of President Obama’s efforts to get America’s economy running again. They fought against the President’s stimulus and then hurried in line to beg for federal money for their districts while they lied that the stimulus did not create one job. Paul Ryan may be the biggest hypocrite of all for making a passionate speech and citing benefits of federal money to create jobs and spur economic growth in a down economy with no regard for the nation’s deficit, and then campaigning that President Obama’s stimulus was a monstrosity that is adding to the “unsustainable national debt.” Speaking of the deficit, in 2008 George W. Bush passed two stimulus bills, and the second was for fiscal 2009 that Republicans like to pin on President Obama in another example of lying hypocrisy. Americans should be outraged that for three-and-a-half years, Republicans knew exactly what it took to grow the economy and create jobs, and instead of working with the President to help the American people, they lied, obstructed, and complained about the rising debt that would be on its way down if they had followed Paul Ryan’s “time-tested, proven” solution to get Americans working again like the President has been saying since his first day in office.