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“If Facts Spoke For Themselves”: Takeaways On The VP Debate From Paul Ryan’s Home State

The lively October 11 debate between Vice President Joe Biden and the GOP Vice-Presidential candidate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, has been widely analyzed and fact-checked. But from the Wisconsin perspective, a few statements made by our fellow cheesehead brought to mind some idioms used widely in his home state.

   If You Live In a Glass House, Don’t Throw Stones

“Joe and I are from similar towns. He’s from Scranton, Pennsylvania. I’m from Janesville, Wisconsin.” Ryan then cited Scranton’s ten percent unemployment rate, incorrectly suggesting it was indicative of national trends. “You know what it was the day [Obama and Biden] came in? 8.5 percent. That is happening all around America.”

When Ryan first became a U.S. Representative in 1999, unemployment in Janesville was at 3.8 percent. It is now at 9.2 percent. But nationally and in America’s major cities, unemployment is going down, albeit slowly. Unemployment in Ryan’s hometown is still too high, but the rate has dropped from a peak of 15.6 percent a few months after Obama and Biden took office. The peak was largely attributable to the Janesville General Motors plant closing in 2008 under President George W. Bush.

   Fool Me Once, Shame on You; Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me

Ryan pledged during the debate that the Romney-Ryan ticket has a plan for “getting the economy growing at 4 percent, creating 12 million jobs over the next four years.”

The 12 million jobs pledge is one that Romney has been repeating on the campaign trail, with the campaign airing ads in Ryan’s home state promising to create 240,000 jobs in Wisconsin (12 million divided by 50 states). But folks in Wisconsin have reason to doubt these sorts of jobs pledges.

Wisconsin’s current Governor Scott Walker was elected in 2010 with a nearly identical jobs pledge — a promise to create 250,000 jobs by the end of his term in 2014 — and repeated the pledge in May of 2012 during his recall election. But even Walker admits this promise is already broken. Wisconsin’s job growth rates continues to rank among the worst in the nation, behind other states in the region and nationally.

Biden, for his part, did not make a specific promise about jobs numbers, but he did say “we can and we will” get unemployment below 6 percent, a plan that the White House has not backed up with any specifics.

As CMD asked in September, do these folks really think Wisconsinites will fall for it again?

   Don’t Look a Gift Horse in the Mouth

In the debate, Rep. Ryan railed against the Obama administration’s stimulus plan and characterized it as a failure. Biden quickly pointed out that Ryan himself had sought stimulus funds for companies in his district.

“I love that, I love that,” Biden responded, laughing. “This is such a bad program and he writes me a letter saying — writes the Department of Energy a letter saying — the reason we need this stimulus, it will create growth and jobs. His words. And now he’s sitting here looking at me.”

Ryan sought $20 million in “green stimulus” for the Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corporation and hundreds of thousands of dollars for the Energy Center of Wisconsin, both of which were granted by the Department of Energy. Ryan defended the letters in the debate by saying “We advocated for constituents who were applying for grants. It’s what we do.”

In one of the letters, Ryan wrote: “I was pleased that the primary objectives of their project will allow residents and businesess in the partner cities to reduce their energy costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and stimulate the local economy by creating new jobs.”

Other businesses in Ryan’s district have also benefitted from stimulus spending. Ruud Lighting in Racine, for example, manufactures LED lights and has expanded and added jobs by winning contracts to supply LED lights to municipalities across the United States, many of which are making the purchases using federal stimulus dollars from the Department of Energy.

   Don’t Kill a Goose That Lays Golden Eggs

In his closing statements, Ryan repeated the widely discredited claim that Obamacare is a “government takeover of health care,” a right-wing talking point that CMD’s Senior Fellow on Healthcare Wendell Potter has demonstrated was developed by the private health care industry. “Obamacare,” after all, was developed largely to protect and defend the private insurance industry against those who preferred a government-run health care system, such as those found in Canada and much of Europe.

Romney and Ryan have pledged to repeal “Obamacare” without putting forward a plan to replace it. But in 2010, Rep. Ryan sought Obamacare funding for a community health center in his district.

“The proposed new facility, the Belle City Neighborhood Health Center, will serve both the preventative and comprehensive primary healthcare needs of thousands of new patients of all ages who are currently without healthcare,” Ryan wrote.

Community health centers like this one provide a variety of vital health services to low-income communities, and “Obamacare” provides funding to significantly expand those services, including $9.5 billion in operating costs for existing community health centers and $1.5 billion for constructing new facilities.

Wisconsinites will be talking about these facts and others as they gather around the bubbler this weekend.


By: Brendan Fischer, Center for Media and Democracy, October 12, 2012

October 15, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Another Republican Insult”: Paul Ryan’s Dangerous Obsession With Ayn Rand

Honestly, grown men who swear by Ayn Rand might be locked up inside the house—and not the House of Representatives, Paul Ryan. I mean back home in Janesville, Wis., where your new stature as presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney’s running mate has raised a hullabaloo all the way up to Baraboo. The venerable Alan Greenspan should be put under honorary house arrest, too, for his lifelong disciple-like embrace of Rand’s ideas, which has cost the country more dearly than we shall ever know.

As chairman of the Federal Reserve during four presidencies, Greenspan displayed a laissez-faire ferocious faith in the free marketplace. This caused him to completely ignore signs of the economy going soft and awry on his watch. Remember when the dot com bubble burst?

The late Rand’s entrance into this presidential election, thanks to Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, is more serious than it seems. Sweet reason has a hard time with Rand glorifying selfishness as political doctrine. Now that “selfishness ethic” happens all the time, accompanied by vicious attacks on the federal government and people who work for it, in the Republican-run House. It’s not all the author’s fault, but Ryan’s devotion to Rand is yet another Republican insult and injury to classic American ideas of fairness, squareness, and civic-mindedness.

In fact, the Ryan-authored House Republican budget document, which cuts the heart out of our body politic, ripping social services and Medicare to shreds, is a pledge to the Rand coat of arms, standing against people who need a little help from other people. And in turn, Rand gives him a rationale for the intellectual poverty of his ideas.

I don’t know grown women mean enough to believe in Rand’s lunar-like worldview. Her “objectivism” is portrayed in glittering novels, including We The Living, Atlas Shrugged, and The Fountainhead. Then again, she was not much interested in reaching women. Let’s be real: In life and work, this woman cared about having men in her thrall. She succeeded beyond what you might expect of a nice girl from St. Petersburg, born in 1905.

Trouble was, she got stuck in the Russian Revolution upheaval at an impressionable age. Scarred by communist collective ideals and the violence of change, she created the uber-capitalist myth of the strong man standing alone years after emigrating to the United States as a young woman. She also worked as a screenwriter.

Some would say Rand actually devolved from Social Darwinism. As despicable as her influence is, Greenspan can say he was caught up in a vanguard of his younger days, when the Soviet Union set off waves of alarrm and opposition to Communism as practiced by the ruthlesss Joseph Stalin.

But Ryan, 42, has lived his life on the right side of the tracks in the serene peace of Janesville, so why is he so sharp-edged with our social contract? So far, his mark on the 2012 race is allowing Rand to skip down two generations, from the octogenarian Greenspan to himself. Rand died in 1982, but hey, she lives on in a real way to this day.


By: Jamie Stiehm, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, August 14, 2012

August 15, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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