The GOP and White-Collar Welfare

As Obama is criticized over government aid for the poor, the rich continue to benefit from handouts.

Darren Hauck/Getty Images
Darren Hauck/Getty Images

(The Root) — The Romney-Ryan ticket suffers from pathological hypocrisy.

On Monday, President Obama made a rare appearance in the White House pressroom and addressed false claims in a Mitt Romney campaign commercial that asserts Obama’s administration is turning back the clock on the welfare reform of 1996 by doing away with the requirement that welfare recipients work after two years on assistance, with few exceptions. The ad refers to a recent memo from the Department of Health and Human Services offering states a waiver to the 1996 rules, but only if they develop plans that increase work opportunities by 20 percent.

Obama called Romney’s claims “patently false,” and the president is supported by the New York Times and the Washington Post, both of which revealed that Republicans actually requested the waiver. In fact, Romney was among several Republican governors who signed a letter in 2005 asking for more flexibility.

Yes. Romney is now attacking the president for granting a request that Romney himself made. Are pigs flying? Has hell frozen over?

This flair for consistently being inconsistent is not new for Romney. And it turns out that his reportedly brave choice of running mate shares this problematic personality flaw.

In 2010 the current Republican vice presidential candidate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, publicly objected to what he called “the discredited economic playbook of borrow-and-spend Keynesian policies.” Ryan was referring to President Obama’s stimulus package, but a little fact-checking shows that Ryan supported similar measures under President George W. Bush after the Sept. 11 attacks.

In 2002 Ryan gave an impassioned speech imploring Congress to support the Bush proposal. “What we’re trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed,” Ryan said. “What we’re trying to accomplish is to pass the kinds of legislation that … in the past have grown the economy and gotten people back to work.”

His hypocrisy has multiplied. After voting against Obama’s stimulus, the congressman advocated for millions of dollars to benefit his own district. And he did so on the grounds that the money would create jobs. When asked about the inconsistency, Ryan denied having requested stimulus funds. But then letters bearing Ryan’s personal signature emerged, and he was forced to admit that his office did, in fact, ask for (and receive) money from the Obama stimulus, and the money did save, protect and create jobs.

The cognitive dissonance displayed is mind-numbing. Either Romney and Ryan lack integrity or they are guilty of being incredibly intellectually inept.