When President Bush demanded bailouts of Wall Street and Detroit in late 2008, most Republicans said no. Today in the U.S. House there are only six Republicans who voted yes on the auto bailout and both bank bailout votes. One of those congressmen is Paul Ryan. …
In the Bush era, Republicans spoke of free markets and limited government, but they regularly expanded the government when Big Business asked them to. And Paul Ryan consistently took the Big Business-Big Government side.
Ryan supported the Export-Import Bank, a federal agency that exists to subsidize U.S. manufacturers with taxpayer-backed financing. The free-market rump of the GOP voted to kill the agency in 2002, but Ryan supported reauthorization on the floor.
The GOP teamed up with the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries in 2003 to expand Medicare to cover prescription drugs. Again, conservatives in the party dissented, and again, Ryan supported the corporate-welfare legislation.
The bailouts of Wall Street and Detroit were the pinnacle of Bush-era corporatism, and Bush couldn’t even bring most of his party along with him. Ryan didn’t simply back the bailout of Wall Street, he helped lead the bailout charge.
Ryan passionately pleaded on the floor for his fellow Republicans to join him. While two-thirds of his party mates voted no on the first bank bailout vote, Ryan voted with the banks — and he did so again a few days later when the House finally passed the Troubled Asset Relief Program on the strength of Democratic votes.
Come December, Ryan was one of only 32 House Republicans who voted to bail out General Motors and Chrysler.
Only 16 House Republicans voted aye on all three bailout votes in late 2008. Two of them, Ray LaHood and John McHugh, now serve in the Obama administration. Six of the 16 are now lobbyists — some with banks as clients. Six members of Team Bailout remain in the House, including Ryan.
Those numbers show Ryan wasn’t merely being a team player when he voted for corporate welfare — he was staking out his own turf: more pro-business than pro-market.
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