GOP VP hope Paul Ryan was for auto bailouts before he was against them

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Congressional portrait of U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc).

Paul Ryan was for the auto bailouts before he was against them. (Photo Credit: Public Domain/U.S. Congress/Wikipedia)

“He was for it before he was against it” is a particularly annoying form of political theater that we’ve heard way too many times in recent years. For Republican vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the catchphrase definitely applies. According to the congressional record, Ryan voted in 2008 to support the auto bailouts of Chrysler and General Motors. At that time, neither the GOP or Mitt Romney agreed with Ryan’s stance, which has since flip-flopped.

Paul Ryan does an about-face on ‘Too big to fail’

Paul Ryan, who was named Mitt Romney’s running mate on Saturday, was one of 32 House Republicans to go against the grain to support that bill that would have approved $14 billion in auto bailouts to Chrysler and GM, based upon previously authorized monies that were a part of a Department of Energy loan that would have helped the automakers avoid bankruptcy court. The bill never made it past the Senate, and President George W. Bush ultimately authorized $13.4 million in auto bailouts to be drawn from the $700 billion TARP fund for the financial services sector.

In 2008, Paul Ryan argued in favor of the auto bailouts, claiming that it was using U.S. tax dollars that had already been earmarked for use in the country’s financial recovery phase.

“I’ve maintained that any assistance to the domestic auto industry should be drawn from previously approved funds from a U.S. Department of Energy loan package, rather than divert resources from the financial rescue package or rely on additional taxpayer dollars,” Ryan said in a written statement from 2008.

Be realistic, Congress

In June 2010, however, Paul Ryan told Fox Business Network that he wouldn’t have approved the bill if he’d known the auto bailouts were to to be taken from TARP funds.

“The whole purpose of voting for that auto bill was to prevent the auto companies from getting TARP dollars,” Ryan told Fox Business. “What happened? It didn’t get that money and President Bush, followed by President Obama gave them TARP and now TARP has become this revolving government slush fund.”

General Motors had an assembly plant within Paul Ryan’s congressional district in Janesville, Wisc. The plant closed in 2008, and 5,000-plus jobs were lost. At the time, Ryan was looking out for the plant  retirees and the benefits they potentially could have lost.

“At the forefront of my mind are jobs in Southern Wisconsin and the retiree commitments to workers that could be placed in jeopardy under certain bankruptcy scenarios,” Ryan said in a 2008 statement. “To be clear, this bill is not intended to save the American auto industry and makes no guarantees that layoffs in this industry will end. Congress must stop overselling what it can do. At the very least, I am hopeful that by extending these loans to the American auto manufacturers, bankruptcy will be avoided in the near term and protections for retirees will remain intact.”

Mitt said let Detroit go bankrupt

Mitt Romney wrote in a 2008 New York Times op-ed that auto bailouts should not have been the business of the U.S. Government. In order to match presidential candidate Romney in 2012, Paul Ryan’s thought process has followed suit.

“Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself,” Romney wrote. “With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses.”

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