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Paul Ryan: We Learned from the Bush Years that Stimulus 'Didn't Work'

5:15 PM, Aug 19, 2012 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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MSNBC's Chris Hayes posts a video of Paul Ryan expressing support for a stimulus package in 2002. The video of Ryan endorsing a $42 billion stimulus bill when Bush was president is supposed to be evidence that Ryan is a hypocrite because he opposed an $862 billion stimulus package when Obama was president.

Liberal blogger Suzy Khimm of the Washington Post argues that Ryan is not a hypocrite because "most of the 2002 stimulus that Ryan supported, in fact, is largely in line with [Republican] ideology today. The Bush stimulus was distinct from Obama’s not only because it was far smaller, but also because it focused predominantly on tax cuts for businesses...."

It's also worth noting that in 2011 Ryan disavowed the kind of stimulus that took place--on a much, much smaller scale--under the Bush administration: 

"The payroll tax cut that, to me, is not a bad idea. It's always good to let people keep more of their own money," Ryan said. "But it's no substitute for fundamental tax reform--for certainty. It's temporary stuff." 

"See, what we've learned already from the Keynesian playbook is demand side spending stimulus, temporary tax rebates, which were tried in the Bush administration and didn't work, and this administration--all this stimulus hasn't worked," Ryan continued. "It's temporary. It gives you a debt hangover at the end of the day. And so I'd like to see if we can focus on maybe some more of the corporate tax reform stuff and permanent things. Businesses need some permanence to plan and invest, and they didn't get much of that last night."

Do Democrats really want to argue that what the economy needs is more Bush-Obama stimulus spending? As Franklin Roosevelt once said, "It is common sense to take a method and try it. If it fails, admit it frankly and try another, but above all try something." Ryan has admitted that stimulus spending has failed, while President Obama denies that it has failed. Does that make Ryan guilty of hypocrisy? Or is it simply common sense?

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