During the two terms of President George W. Bush, Paul Ryan was one of Bush’s biggest supporters, as he was a solid yes vote on all of Bush’s major actions. He voted for both of the Bush tax cuts; voted for going to war with Afghanistan; voted for giving President Bush the authority to invade Iraq; voted yes on enacting the Part D drug prescription benefit; and supported the TARP program to bail out floundering financial institutions. He even lobbied Bush to make partial privatization of Social Security a policy priority in his second term.
Paul Ryan was thus a willing participant in approving initiatives, which, collectively, carry a heavy long-term cost. Economist Joseph Stiglitz and colleague estimate the long-term cost of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to be at least $3 trillion. The revenue loss from the two tax cuts has passed the $1 trillion mark. The prescription drug benefit was costed out at $400 billion for the first ten years by the Bush administration’s leading expert; however, the administration deliberately low-balled the estimated cost to squeeze it through the U.S. House. The full monetary cost of TARP is in dispute but it will be substantial.
The contrast between Paul Ryan’s words about cutting government spending and his actions as a lawmaker have continued into the Obama administration. Ryan has been a harsh critic of President Obama’s stimulus plan but both the Boston Globe and the Wall Street Journal have reported on Ryan’s letters to the Labor Department and the Department of Energy to obtain stimulus funds for local energy groups. When the Wall Street Journal pressed Ryan on his fund solicitation, he at first denied any solicitation; however, when presented with the letters he signed, he characterized them as carrying out “constituent service requests.” There is a big difference between helping out an individual or family with a problem and trying to help businesses get funding from a program that Ryan has labeled as a big government giveaway.
Rep. Paul Ryan has already contributed to deepening the deficit hole through his voting record. He will deepen it further with his budget plan to drop the top marginal tax rate from 35 to 25 percent, without identifying any compensating increases in revenue.