You’re going to read and hear a lot about Paul Ryan’s speech on Wednesday night. And I imagine most of it will be about how Ryan’s speech played—with the party loyalists in Tampa, with the television viewers across the country, and eventually with the swing voters who will decide the election.
I’d like to talk, instead, about what Ryan actually said—not because I find Ryan’s ideas objectionable, although I do, but because I thought he was so brazenly willing to twist the truth.
At least four times, Ryan misrepresented the facts. And while none of the statements were new, the context was. It’s one thing to hear them on a thirty-second television spot or even in a stump speech before a small crowd. It’s something else entirely to hear them in prime time address, as a vice presidential nominee is accepting his party’s nomination and speaking to the entire country.
Here are the four statements that deserve serious scrutiny:
1) About Medicare.
Ryan attacked Obama for “raiding” Medicare. Again, Ryan has no standing whatsoever to make this attack, because his own budget called for taking the same amount of money from Medicare. Twice. The only difference is that Ryan’s budget used those savings to finance Ryan’s priorities, which include a massive tax cut that benefits the wealthy disproportionately.
It’s true that Romney has pledged to put that money back into Medicare and Ryan now says he would do the same. But the claim is totally implausible given Romney's promise to cap non-defense spending at 16 percent of gross domestic product.
By the way, Obamacare's cut to Medicare was a reduction in what the plan pays hospitals and insurance companies. And the hospitals said they could live with those cuts, because Obamacare was simultaneously giving more people health insurance, alleviating the financial burden of charity care.
What Obamacare did not do is take away benefits. On the contrary, it added benefits, by offering free preventative care and new prescription drug coverage. By repealing Obamacare, Romney and Ryan would take away those benefits—and, by the way, add to Medicare's financial troubles because the program would be back to paying hospitals and insurers the higher rates.
2) About the credit rating downgrade.
Ryan blamed the downgrading of American debt on Obama. But it was the possibility that America would default on its debts that led to the downgrade. And why did that possibility exist? Because Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling, playing chicken not just with the nations’ credit rating but the whole economy, unless Obama would cave into their budget demands.
3) About the deficit
Ryan said “President Obama has added more debt than any other president before him” and proclaimed “We need to stop spending money we don’t have.” In fact, this decade’s big deficits are primarily a product of Bush-era tax cuts and wars. (See graph.) And you know who voted for them? Paul Ryan.
4) About protecting the weak.
Here’s Ryan on the obligations to help those who can’t help themselves:
We have responsibilities, one to another – we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak. The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves. … We can make the safety net safe again.
The rhetoric is stirring—and positively galling. Analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that 62 percent of the cuts in Ryan budget would come from programs that serve low-income people. And that’s assuming he keeps the Obamacare Medicare cuts. If he’s serious about putting that money back into Medicare, the cuts to these programs would have to be even bigger.
Among the cuts Ryan specified was a massive reduction in Medicaid spending. According to a report by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Urban Institute, between 14 and 27 million people would lose health insurance from these cuts. That’s above and beyond the 15 million or so who are supposed to get Medicaid coverage from the Affordable Care Act but wouldn’t because Romney and Ryan have pledged to repeal the law.
I realize conservatives think that transforming Medicaid into a block grant, so that states have more control over how to spend the money, can make the program more efficient. But Medicaid already costs far less than any other insurance program in America. And even to the extent states can find some new efficiencies, the idea that they can find enough to offset such a draconian funding cut is just not credible.
Last edited by T'Pol; 08-30-2012 at 11:16 AM.
From Fox News: "Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold"
Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012/...#ixzz251rvLkSe
"I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them."
Adlai Stevenson 09/09/1952
Paul Ryan’s speech in 3 words by Fox News Writer and Contributor Sally Kohn
At least a quarter of Americans still don’t know who Paul Ryan is, and only about half who know and have an opinion of him view him favorably.
So, Ryan’s primary job tonight was to introduce himself and make himself seem likeable, and he did that well. The personal parts of the speech were very personally delivered, especially the touching parts where Ryan talked about his father and mother and their roles in his life. And at the end of the speech, when Ryan cheered the crowd to its feet, he showed an energy and enthusiasm that’s what voters want in leaders and what Republicans have been desperately lacking in this campaign.
To anyone watching Ryan’s speech who hasn’t been paying much attention to the ins and outs and accusations of the campaign, I suspect Ryan came across as a smart, passionate and all-around nice guy — the sort of guy you can imagine having a friendly chat with while watching your kids play soccer together. And for a lot of voters, what matters isn’t what candidates have done or what they promise to do —it’s personality. On this measure, Mitt Romney has been catastrophically struggling and with his speech, Ryan humanized himself and presumably by extension, the top of the ticket.
On the other hand, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to facts, Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech. On this measure, while it was Romney who ran the Olympics, Ryan earned the gold.
The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.
Fact: While Ryan tried to pin the downgrade of the United States’ credit rating on spending under President Obama, the credit rating was actually downgraded because Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.
Fact: While Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut down of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, the plant was actually closed under President George W. Bush. Ryan actually asked for federal spending to save the plant, while Romney has criticized the auto industry bailout that President Obama ultimately enacted to prevent other plants from closing.
Fact: Though Ryan insisted that President Obama wants to give all the credit for private sector success to government, that isn't what the president said. Period.
Fact: Though Paul Ryan accused President Obama of taking $716 billion out of Medicare, the fact is that that amount was savings in Medicare reimbursement rates (which, incidentally, save Medicare recipients out-of-pocket costs, too) and Ryan himself embraced these savings in his budget plan.
Elections should be about competing based on your record in the past and your vision for the future, not competing to see who can get away with the most lies and distortions without voters noticing or bother to care. Both parties should hold themselves to that standard. Republicans should be ashamed that there was even one misrepresentation in Ryan’s speech but sadly, there were many.
And then there’s what Ryan didn’t talk about.
Ryan didn’t mention his extremist stance on banning all abortions with no exception for rape or incest, a stance that is out of touch with 75% of American voters.
Ryan didn’t mention his previous plan to hand over Social Security to Wall Street.
Ryan didn’t mention his numerous votes to raise spending and balloon the deficit when George W. Bush was president.
Ryan didn’t mention how his budget would eviscerate programs that help the poor and raise taxes on 95% of Americans in order to cut taxes for millionaires and billionaires even further and increase — yes, increase —the deficit.
These aspects of Ryan’s resume and ideology are sticky to say the least. He would have been wise to tackle them head on and try and explain them away in his first real introduction to voters. But instead of Ryan airing his own dirty laundry, Democrats will get the chance.
At the end of his speech, Ryan quoted his dad, who used to say to him, “"Son. You have a choice: You can be part of the problem, or you can be part of the solution."
Ryan may have helped solve some of the likeability problems facing Romney, but ultimately by trying to deceive voters about basic facts and trying to distract voters from his own record, Ryan’s speech caused a much larger problem for himself and his running mate.
Last edited by T'Pol; 08-30-2012 at 06:07 PM.
Last day that a GM car rolled off the Janesville assembly line. (Hint: look closely at the date on the banner.)
Poor Paul. He can't help it. He has a pre-existing condition. It's called foot-in-mouth disease.
The true measure of a man isn’t the power he holds, but on whose behalf he wields it.
Republican Strategist MATTHEW DOWD: "Paul Ryan, what he did in his speech, I think so stretched the truth. And I like Paul Ryan, have a lot of great respect for Paul Ryan, but the elements that he said about closing the GM plant which closed before Barack Obama took President [sic], about the Simpson-Bowles bill which he opposed and then all of a sudden he faults Barack Obama for. At some point, the truth should matter…He was trying to convey that Barack Obama was responsible for the closing of that GM plant and that isn’t true."
The Bush administration actually praised the closure of the GM plant to which Ryan referred, calling it a sign that GM was “adapting well.” So even former Bush figures are willing to cop to what Ryan won’t.
Last edited by Seti-Alpha 5; 09-03-2012 at 10:26 PM.