Yesterday, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) spokes at The Economist’s “The World In 2010” forum in Washington, D.C. The Economist named Ryan one of its three “youngsters to watch” next year because he is reportedly “full of good sense on how to restore America’s public finances.”
Speaking at the conference yesterday, Ryan offer his standard stimulus-bashing trope, calling it an example of the Obama administration’s desire to rapidly shift to “more of a European welfare state.” Ryan expressed his concern that we are “going toward a system where more of our people are worried about their benefits — and they become complacent — versus making the most of their lives.”
Noting that Ryan’s district has received millions in stimulus funding to create or save many jobs, ThinkProgress asked Ryan whether he’d be willing to adhere to his principles and call for a repeal of the measure. Ryan said he would:
TP: You’re obviously a critic of the stimulus. We listened to your colleague Eric Cantor earlier, who was saying the President needs to focus on jobs. While you were speaking, I looked up Janesville, Wisconsin — which is in your district. It received $4 million in stimulus funding, which has helped repair streets, put jobs back into your district. So I think the question for you is: Are you either willing to acknowledge the stimulus has created jobs and is beneficial or if not, do you want to repeal the stimulus and take money away from your district?
RYAN: Yeah, so, I would prospectively repeal the stimulus and put it toward better policy. I don’t think the Keynesian stimulus has worked very well. Those jobs were occurring anyways — those road jobs, through gas tax funding. … It hasn’t create the jobs. It hasn’t brought us to 8 percent unemployment.
Note that Ryan called for “prospectively” repealing the stimulus, meaning that he would not ask districts which have received money to give that money back.
Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, WI has “received over $4 million in stimulus funding so far,” much of it for street repair. The stimulus funding helped speed up the construction of road projects, thus creating or saving many new jobs. Janesville is also “using federal stimulus dollars to pay for part-time teacher hours to help with special-education students.”
The governor of Wisconsin reported in October that more than 8,200 jobs were created or saved in the state thanks to federal stimulus money. Ryan would prefer to halt that success immediately.
Today, President Obama said the U.S. must continue to “spend our way out of this recession.” “We avoided the depression many feared,” he said, but added, “Our work is far from done.”