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article imageOp-Ed: Hey, Ryan! You did NOT 'build that.' The taxpayers did

By Bill Schmalfeldt     Aug 14, 2012 in Politics
Don't you just feel silly, Paul Ryan? Taking the stage like a big shot and mocking President Obama for saying "You didn't build that," referring to small business. Never mind he was saying small businesses didn't build the infrastructure they needed.
You and your Republican buddies haven't let that little fact stop you from waggling your hineys at Democrats and mocking, "We did SO build it, you bunch of socialists! It's OUR business. WE built it."
Except, Congressman Ryan? Your family did NOT build its own business. It was built with the help of government subsidies and loans, according to an article published today by Salon.
When Paul Ryan took to the stage in Mooresville, North Carolina, as Mitt Romney’s running mate, he attacked President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” remark about the role of government in supporting private innovation. But while Republicans have been clamoring to make this election a false dichotomy between the private sector and the public sector, Paul Ryan — heir to a private fortune made by building public highways — is a gaping pothole in that plan. Paul Ryan is a living, breathing GOP example of how public infrastructure and private entrepreneurship work hand-in-hand.
Yes sir! Let's see just how that happened.
Turns out Great-Grandpappy Ryan started a construction company, Ryan Incorporated Central, in 1884 with a single team of mules building railroad embankments in Southern Wisconsin. An American story.
Built with the help of taxpayers, as it turns out. During his administration some 20 years earlier, President Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act into law, providing taxpayer dollars to fund the construction of a transcontinental railway. All railroads thereafter connected to, and benefited from, that public investment. All well and good, right?
Then, at the turn of the century, the Ryans became road builders. A subsidiary company, Ryan Incorporated Southern, according to its website, “worked from from 1910 until the rural interstate Highway System was completed 60 years later [on] mostly Highway construction.” The $119 billion spent by the federal government on the Interstate Highway System was, by one account, “the largest public works program since the Pyramids.”
All well and good, right?
You didn't stop there, taxpayer!
The company website tells how it spent your money on “some of the original work at what would become O’Hare Airport” in Chicago. Originally, O’Hare Airport was a manufacturing base for World War II transport planes. In other words, it’s likely that construction project, too, was paid for by tax dollars. A current search of Defense Department contracts suggests that “Ryan Incorporated Central” has had at least 22 defense contracts with the federal government since 1996 , including one from 1996 worth $5.6 million.
Are your pockets empty yet? Good, because -- according to Salon -- Congressman Ryan secured millions in earmarks for his home state of Wisconsin, including, among other things, $3.3 million for highway projects. And Ryan voted to preserve $40 billion in special subsidies for big oil, an industry in which, it so happens, Ryan and his wife hold ownership stakes.
So, does it strike you as hypocritical that Ryan shakes his narrow little hiney on the stage to the chant of "Yes, We DID Build It" after you now that his family built their fortune off the taxpayer dime and Ryan brought great big, brown bags of Government Groceries home to his district, but now he wants to gut financial aid for college students, food stamps for hungry families, Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security — the very things that have, historically, helped poor families climb the ladder of opportunity in America.
Yeah. Strikes us that way, too.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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