Transcript: The Great American Debates: 'There's Too Much Government In My Life'


FRANK: Well, can I respond to that. Because in fact one of the most successful things we have done recently is to keep the American automobile industry alive. Yes, Solyndra was a mistake, but there was a major liberal/conservative fight about whether or not we should inject funding into the American automobile industry. And as a result of that injection of funding, we have a thriving American automobile industry today that would have been in collapse.

And it's interesting that Ford Motor Company that was not looking for any of that money, because they had prudently put aside some money ardently argued for money to go to Chrysler and General Motors which are now alive and thriving. And there was significant appointment -- the American automobile industry is stronger than it has been in a long time because of a judicious intervention of federal funding.

As to the stimulus, yes, they overargued. But the fact is, quite clear, things are better than they would have been.

Now, I understand, it is not a good political slogan to say things would have been worse without me. You don't win on that. But it is clear, and I say that less politely in other forums, it is clear that the economic intervention that we did earlier in 2009, reduced the damage.

The president underestimated the difficulty we had in the economy. But when you talk about interventions, the intervention into the American automobile industry has been very successful and has promoted employment, it has promoted and kept alive an American automobile industry that would have been badly crippled if we hadn't done that.

AMANPOUR: Congress Ryan, you actually voted for the Wall Street bailout, and indeed the auto bailout as well.

RYAN: Right. The auto bailout in order to prevent TARP from going to the auto companies, because we already put $25 billion aside in an energy bill, which I disapproved of, to go to auto companies.

The point I would say with the auto bailout is we created a moral hazard now. Now we said if you're really big and you drive your company into a ditch, don't worry about, because the federal government might just bail you out the next time.

The other point I would simply say is, counterfactual is impossible to disprove, which is it would have been much better if we didn't do all of these things. It's not possible to disprove these things, but I would simply say, when we had deep recessions in these country, usually we come out of it really growing very quickly like we did in the 70s and the 80s. This recession, we are not recovering very well.

Look at how high our unemployment is. Look at how few jobs have been created.

FRANK: Do you think the automobile intervention was successful or not?

RYAN: I think we should have done a bankruptcy, because what we're doing now by saying the bond holders look out if you're not on the right side of the politicians in Washington you might lose your money. And so we're violating the rule of law.

FRANK: I don't see any company today that feels that they can be reckless and be bailed out. As a matter of fact -- we're letting companies fail all the time. There's no such moral hazard.

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