Paul Ryan pushed for greener cars, until he didn’t
At the 3:00 mark of the video above, Paul Ryan says this:
I would just say, if you take a look at the president’s policies, he calls them investments. It’s borrowing money and spending money through Washington, picking winners and losers, spending money on favorite people like Solyndra or Fisker …
It’s a common line from the vice presidential candidate and his party: The Obama administration has “picked winners and losers,” granting government money to companies that the president politically favors. It’s hypocritical, of course; elected officials of every stripe — Ryan included — advocate for funding for their constituents and for issues they support. Like Charles Koch’s attack on cronyism, elected officials who argue that an opponent’s policies are exclusionary and preferential are setting themselves up for an easy rebuttal.
And here’s the rebuttal to Ryan, in case you didn’t see where this was going.
The candidate’s indictment of Fisker in the CBS interview is an attempt to invoke a false story suggesting that a recipient of federal aid created jobs overseas. The loan Fisker received was for a domestic production facility, granted as part of the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program.
As Politico reports:
The [Department of Energy]’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing loan program doesn’t make lump-sum payments, instead doling out the money incrementally to ensure that recipients meet financial and performance milestones along the way. Energy Department officials have stressed in recent months that the tactic is a key part of their due diligence process, aimed at monitoring loan recipients’ financial stability.
But Ryan called for a different strategy in an October 2008 letter to then-Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman outlining a series of steps the department should take as it finalized the ATVM loan program. The letter, obtained by POLITICO, calls for “disbursement flexibility” aimed at “ensuring access to the approved lump-sum versus incremental access.”
Why the advocacy? A Chrysler plant in Kenosha, Wis., produced the company’s “Phoenix” engines — a fuel-efficient system that was eligible for part of the $25 billion allocated.
Ryan’s hypocrisy isn’t just in speaking out against Fisker (and, by extension, the program) now. He recently tried to kill the ATVM program entirely, according to Bloomberg.
The vehicle program is one of three Energy Department loan funds that Ryan in his 2013 U.S. budget blueprint described as “corporate welfare.” He has called for eliminating green-energy subsidies, including the $16 billion that remains in the $25 billion vehicles fund.
Which is different than his position in 2008. As Bloomberg puts it, “Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan pressed the U.S. Department of Energy in 2008 to write rules for electric-car loans that could have risked almost as much federal money as was lost when Solyndra LLC went bankrupt.”
We’ll say this much for Ryan: His pre-“budget hawk” priorities — stimulus funding, electric vehicle investment — were good policies to support. And we’ll say this, too: He’s still not the biggest flip-flopper on the Republican ticket.