Joe Biden had a simple rebuttal Thursday night at the vice presidential debate when Paul Ryan lambasted the Obama administration’s 2009 stimulus program as wasteful and harmful to the economy: how can you knock the package after you requested funds for your constituents?
The exchange between Biden and Ryan kicked off after the Wisconsin Republican congressman said the Obama administration promised if the stimulus passed, “the economy would grow at 4 percent” but instead, “it’s growing at 1.3” percent.
Ryan ultimately voted against the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“They passed the stimulus,” Ryan said. “The idea that we could borrow $831 billion, spend it on all of these special interest groups, and that it would work out just fine, that unemployment would never get to 8 percent — it went up above 8 percent for 43 months.”
Given a chance to respond, Biden looked at Ryan and said, “I love my friend here” but “he sent me two letters saying, ‘By the way, can you send me some stimulus money for companies here in the state of Wisconsin?’”
“I love that,” Biden said. “I love that.”
Moderator Martha Raddatz asked Ryan to respond.
“On two occasions we advocated for constituents who were applying for grants,” Ryan said. “That’s what we do.”
Reached by The Daily Caller, Ryan campaign spokesman Brendan Buck on Friday referred TheDC to previous statements made by Ryan’s office about the issue when asked to elaborate on his requests. Ryan has argued that despite being against the policy, it’s still his responsibility to help constituents obtain available money.
The Boston Globe reported in August that Ryan wrote at least four letters to the Department of Energy requesting funds on behalf of two conservation groups in Wisconsin. Both groups, according to the paper, were awarded funds amounting to millions.
“If Congressman Ryan is asked to help a Wisconsin entity applying for existing federal grant funds, he does not believe flawed policy should get in the way of doing his job and providing a legitimate constituent service to his employers,” a Ryan spokesman said in 2010.