Rep. Paul Ryan, the House budget committee chairman who has emerged as a top Mitt Romney surrogate and is talked about as a possible running mate, countered the Obama campaign's fresh attack on Romney's record at Bain Capital by citing the government's failed gamble on solar panel firm Solyndra.
Ryan, R-Wis., speaking on "Fox News Sunday," tried to draw fire away from the presumptive Republican presidential nominee by pointing to the "crony capitalism" of taxpayer-backed loans to well-connected firms like Solyndra.
"What Bain did is they used private capital to try and help struggling businesses," Ryan said. "What President Obama's doing is he's gambling with taxpayer money and giving money to corporate contributors like Solyndra, and he's losing taxpayer money."
[Obama's] losing taxpayer money
- Rep. Paul Ryan
The Romney surrogate drew renewed attention to Solyndra, the solar panel company that filed for bankruptcy after receiving nearly $530 million in taxpayer loans, after the Obama campaign brought up Romney's record at Bain in a big way this past week with a hard-hitting campaign ad.
The ad highlighted the case of a Kansas City steel company that went bankrupt in 2001 and laid off hundreds of workers -- in the years following Bain Capital's involvement.
Austan Goolsbee, former Obama economic adviser, told "Fox News Sunday" that Romney's record at Bain ought to be thrown open for the public to examine, considering he cites his business experience as a chief qualification to be president.
"In this case, the company did horribly but the investors did great," he said of the steel company highlighted in the Obama ad. "They canceled pensions, they drove the company into the ground, but the investors of Bain actually profited a great deal."
Romney's campaign, as it did when the candidate's Bain record came under attack during the GOP primary season, has pointed to other companies that thrived after Bain's involvement.
Ryan pointed out Sunday that Romney wasn't even at Bain when the Kansas City company filed for bankruptcy -- he was overseeing the Olympics.
And he said the Obama administration is taking its share of gambles too, only with taxpayer money.
"What happens when the government sees itself as a venture capitalist -- they end up picking lots of losers," Ryan said. "It's not working."
With both candidates' records coming under close scrutiny as the general election campaign heats up, Goolsbee disputed the claim that Obama stands for a "government-directed approach" to the economy. He cited the billions of dollars in business tax cuts Obama has signed.
"He believes that the main driver of the economy is the middle class," Goolsbee said, accusing Romney of pushing a tax-cuts-for-the-wealthy view premised on the "George Bush budget."
"If that was a magic elixir, why did we not have phenomenal growth?" he asked.