U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has made a name for himself as one of the new intellectual leaders of the tea party coalition of the GOP, authoring at least two notably austere House Republican budget proposals that would subtantially cut several government social welfare and educational programs in the name of balancing the federal budget, and ultimately, stimulating economic growth.
Ryan, who presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney just tapped to be his vice presidential running mate, derides the role of so-called 'big government' and, as the chairman of the House Budget Committee, has consistently advocated grim cuts to federal spending. But, while the congressman 'talks the tea party talk,' and 'walks the walk' regarding the aforementioned government programs, his hardline libertarian beliefs have not stopped him from accepting government money when it would benefit his district.
Ryan Approved Of Obama Fiscal Stimulus Money For His District
As a recent New Yorker magazine profile of Ryan points out, the seven-term congressman has accepted millions in earmarked funds and even money from President Barack Obama's economic stimulus bill to aid the constituents of him hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin.
Ryan may believe that big government economics breeds crony capitalism, but through 2007, the congressman requested millions of government money toward special projects in Wisconsin's 1st district. Some of those projects include:
- $400,000 for a water treatment plant
- $300,000 for a technical college where General Motors workers (based in a Janesville factory) could be retrained
- $735,000 to improve Janesville's bus system
- $3.3 million for highway projects throughout Wisconsin
- $1.2 million in government grants toward construction of the Janesville Innovation Center, which was reportedly intended to provide entrepreneurs with commercial space to launch their projects. The funding was made available through the Economic Development Administration, one of President Obama's major stimulus programs.
- Janesville was picked as one of the locations for new factories specializing in the production of medical tracers, or a radioactive isotope used to treat melanoma. The federal government offered $25 million matching grants to companies that could devise a way to produce the product domestically; two of those four plants will be in Wisconsin's Rock County.
But while Ryan has certainly gone out of the way to earmark money for his district, the New Yorker points out that the fiscally and socially conservative congressman could have gone even further. In fact, that's essentially what John Beckford, a Ryan supporter and the head of the pro-business economic development group Forward Janesville, told the publication when asked if Ryan's libertarianism has clashed with the needs of his constituents.
I suppose there could have been a full-court press to just cobble together as much federal money as possible on our behalf to make it irresistible for G.M. to keep this plant open, Beckford said, reportedly after some hesitation, referring to a General Motors factory that was forced to close its doors in 2008.
Ryan's 'Big Government' Votes
Ryan, despite his stated preference for smaller government, has actually voted for several bills that extended the reach of the federal government. That support includes a 2001 vote in favor of No Child Left Behind, the signature education program of the George W. Bush Administration ( of course, today Ryan's website calls for state-centered educational programs because education ought to be governed by state and local boards more ably qualified to determine student need.
Ryan also voted in favor of:
- $192 billion in additional anti-recession stimulus spending (2009)
- The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) (2008)
- The Head Start Act (2007)
- Medicare Part D prescription drug expansion (2005)
- Making the PARTIOT Act permanent (Dec. 2005)
- $70 million for Section 8 Housing vouchers (2006).