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RNC: You Didn't Build That

Carl Gibson

The entire theme of the upcoming Republican National Convention in Tampa is "We Built This." It's a dig at a remark Obama made at a Virginia campaign event, where he pushed the narrative that government investments in national infrastructure like good schools, good roads and good police/fire protection is essential to the success of the business community. Naturally, the GOP took a few words out of Obama's speech and sold it to a media eager to paint the president as anti-business, even though the stock market is near an all-time high and corporate profits are already at all-time highs.

At a nauseating campaign rally last week dubbed a "town hall meeting" in Manchester, New Hampshire, which turned away Democrats with tickets to the event, both candidates relentlessly harped on Obama's "you didn't build that" remark. The meticulously-scripted event only took questions from fawning supporters, one of whom was a small business owner who also reveled in the GOP's new favorite anti-Obama meme. Paul Ryan's twitter is full of such tired platitudes like: "I'm proud to stand with @MittRomney - a leader who knows that if you have a small business, you did build that!"

Ironically, the Tampa Bay Times Forum arena, the location the Republican Party chose to host a convention with the "We Built This" theme, was built with taxpayer funds, which accounted for $86 million, or 62%, of the total money needed to finance the construction of the stadium. It's a fitting paradox, as the GOP is expected to nominate a guy for president who made his millions tearing down American businesses and selling them to China, and a vice-presidential pick whose past voting history contradicts nearly every one of his current positions.

Like his party's philosophy, Paul Ryan is a walking contradiction. He didn't become a deficit hawk until Barack Obama was elected. The biggest spending bills during the Bush administration - tax cuts for the top 1%, two unfunded wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the costly Medicare Part D donut hole - all account for most of the current debt for which Ryan, who voted to add $6.8 trillion to the debt, is using to bludgeon Obama. At the August 20 campaign event in New Hampshire, Ryan managed to speak of 1 in 6 Americans living in poverty as "unacceptable" while keeping a straight face, while simultaneously championing a budget plan that would literally cut taxes for people like himself and Romney, while raising taxes on - and cutting paid-for benefits for - people like those in the audience cheering for him. The $4 trillion in cuts proposed in the Ryan budget is offset by the $4 trillion less in revenue that would be collected. Paul Ryan, like his budget, is a complete fraud.

Republicans like Paul Ryan and Eric Cantor blast big government spending in the press, while simultaneously lobbying for it in private. Ryan's district benefited from spending from Obama's Recovery Act, which used $20 million to make homes more energy-efficient. House Republican Leader Eric Cantor wrote this letter asking for government spending in his own district. Then, once the TV cameras are on, Cantor, Ryan, and the Republicans fall all over themselves to talk about how government doesn't create jobs. And in order to reinforce their false narrative that can't otherwise stand on its own under scrutiny, they fight to get more of themselves elected to office on the premise of "government can't do anything right," and vote down every proposal that would create jobs and improve the economy while saying, "See? We told you government doesn't do anything!"

The Republican Party having their national convention with a "We Built This" theme in a stadium made possible by the government spending they claim to hate is the perfect illustration of how silly today's Republican Party has become. If you're voting Republican in this election and you aren't a millionaire or a corporate lobbyist, you're proving to everyone around that you're just as silly as your politicians.


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Carl Gibson

Carl Gibson is a freelance journalist, columnist, and editor primarily covering political and economic news. His investigative reporting and opinion writing has appeared in CNN, The Guardian, The Washington Post, Barron's, MarketWatch, The Independent, The Houston Chronicle, and NPR, among others.

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