Paul Ryan: President Obama deserves zero credit for recovering economy

“I think the Federal Reserve has done more,” the Speaker of the House asserted ahead of Obama's final SOTU

By Sophia Tesfaye

Senior Politics Editor

Published January 12, 2016 7:17PM (EST)

House Speaker Paul Ryan  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
House Speaker Paul Ryan (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Newly minted Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is doing his part to pre-blunt President Obama's expected legacy outlining State of the Union address tonight, arguing that the president, whom he called "a dogmatic ideologue," deserves exactly zero credit for the recovering American economy that added 292,000 jobs in the last month of 2015.

“Wages are stagnant," Ryan argued to reporters Tuesday morning, undercutting the strength of America's economic rebound from the more than 400,000 jobs lost a month in early 2009 when the president assumed office. "46 million people are still living in poverty today, among the highest poverty rates in a generation,” the speaker continued.

“These are not the signs of a recovery, these are not the signs of a strong economy. These are signs of a weak economy,” the Republican House leader asserted, blaming the president for the slow moving recovery.

"I'm sure he'll have a nice glossy rendition of the last seven years," Ryan said of President Obama's final address before excoriating the president for failing to enact large-scale entitlement reform like the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles recommendations. "He had an enormous problem facing this country that he chose to ignore. Now I think he chose to ignore it for ideological reasons more than anything else."

"He never took on this threat of debt," Ryan continued. "He never proposed to balance the budget. He demagogued us and he never proposed to actually get this debt under control."

Ahead of a Senate vote to audit the Fed sponsored by Kentucky Senator and long shot Republican presidential candidate Rand Paul, Speaker Ryan credited the central banking system, not President Obama, with the paltry (by his estimation) rebound the American economy has seen over the past seven years.

“I think the Federal Reserve has done more,” Ryan argued. “What’s happening is people at the high end are doing pretty darn well because of loose money from the Fed. And all these regulations, all this uncertainty, all these taxes are giving us weak economic growth.”

Ryan told reporters that he predicted that President Obama would "lay a lot of verbal traps for us" during his final State of the Union address and insisted that unlike his predecessor, former Speaker John Boehner who often laid bare his feelings with wide-ranging facial expressions, he had practiced his "poker face" so as not to give off any impressions while seated behind the president for the first time.

"For his legacy to be secure," Ryan said of the outgoing president, "he has to have a successor from his own party, and from his wing of his own party. Hillary fits the bill. So what is he going to do? My assumption is he will do everything he can to bait us into fights with him to try to make us look like we're angry reactionaries incapable of winning the Electoral College."

"We are not just an opposition party," Ryan argued over the weekend at the GOP's poverty summit in South Carolina. "We are a proposition party.”

Ryan, however, made no mention of how his party's calls for austerity and tax cuts during the height of the economic recession would have faired in comparison to the president's stimulus and focus on health insurance reform.

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By Sophia Tesfaye

Sophia Tesfaye is Salon's senior editor for news and politics, and resides in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @SophiaTesfaye.

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Aol_on Economy Federal Reserve Gop Paul Ryan President Obama Republicans Speaker Of The House