Paul Ryan Got Federal Funds To Help With Bush-Era GM Plant Closure He Blames On Obama
GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan took a swipe at President Barack Obama on Thursday for failing to rescue a General Motors factory in his Wisconsin congressional district, calling it “one more broken promise” on the Democratic administration’s record.
“I remember President Obama visiting it when he was first running, saying he’ll keep that plant open,” Ryan said during a campaign stop. “One of the reasons that plant got shut down was $4 gasoline. You see, this costs jobs. The president’s terrible energy policies are costing us jobs.”
The attack has already received a fair amount of ridicule because the Janesville, Wis., plant actually closed during the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency. What hasn’t really been emphasized is whether Ryan clearly knew this and made the charge nonetheless.
According to a rudimentary LexisNexis search, Ryan made multiple public pleas to GM, including op-eds in his home state newspaper, to keep the plant open. He and fellow Wisconsin lawmakers went to the automobile company’s headquarters to present plans to extend the plant’s life. When the Bush administration itself called the decision to close the plant evidence that the auto industry was trimming fat and improving its bottom line, Ryan called the news “gut-wrenching.”
And as it became clear in early-fall 2008 that GM wouldn’t relent, Ryan publicly touted the federal tax money he secured to help displaced workers — a use of funds that would seem at odds with his limited-government, fiscal conservative image.
The timeline is worth recounting now that it has popped up in Ryan’s stump speech.
In April 29, 2008, it was announced that 750 workers at the GM plant in Janesville would lose their jobs. Ryan, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, said he would “work closely with those in Janesville facing uncertainty in the months ahead and do all that I can to ensure that they get the assistance they need.”