Janesville in the spotlight

Janesville, Wis., is famous for at least two reasons.

First, its automotive assembly plant used to employ thousands of people before closing in December 2008 as the nation’s financial crisis began to take hold.

Second, Janesville also is the hometown of the 2012 Republican vice-presidential nominee, Paul Ryan, who sought to make the economy an issue in the most recent presidential campaign.

The city in southern Wisconsin is going to be under the lights once again Monday night as PBS’s “Independent Lens” takes a look at the economic crisis on the city in “As Goes Janesville.” The program will be broadcast at 9 p.m. on KACV-TV.

Janesville’s recent past became something of a campaign issue in this past year’s campaign. Ryan, who represents the city in the U.S. House of Representative, was critical of President Obama’s fiscal policies. Yet the GOP veep nominee’s own hometown fell victim to the crisis that erupted during the final months of President George W. Bush’s administration. The crisis hit several sectors hard, including the automotive industry.

President Bush initiated the auto industry’s recovery by agreeing to bail out companies with government loans. Still, that federal help became an issue as President Obama sought re-election in 2012 while running against Ryan and GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney.

“As Goes Janesville” will explore the impact of economic tumult on the city and its residents. It was substantial, given the closure of the General Motors plant. Tune in to find out what precisely it meant.

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