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Fact checkers find Ryan's convention speech lacking
Aug 30, 2012 - The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Laying out the first plans for his party's presidential ticket, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took some factual shortcuts Wednesday when he attacked President Barack Obama's policies on Medicare, the economic stimulus and the budget deficit.
Sen. Rob Portman, a former U.S. trade representative, glossed over his own problems when critiquing Obama's trade dealings with China. A day earlier, the convention's keynote speaker, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, bucked reality in promising that GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney will lay out for the American people the painful budget cuts it will take to wrestle the government's debt and deficit woes under control.
A closer look at some of the words spoken at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.:
RYAN: "And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. ... So they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama."
THE FACTS: Ryan's claim ignores the fact that Ryan himself incorporated the same cuts into budgets he steered through the House in the past two years as chairman of its Budget Committee, using the money for deficit reduction. And the cuts do not affect Medicare recipients directly, but rather reduce payments to hospitals, health insurance plans and other service providers.
In addition, Ryan's own plan to remake Medicare would squeeze the program's spending even more than the changes Obama made, shifting future retirees into a system in which they would get a fixed payment to shop for coverage among private insurance plans. Critics charge that would expose the elderly to more out-of-pocket costs.
RYAN: "The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal."
THE FACTS: Ryan himself asked for stimulus funds shortly after Congress approved the $800 billion plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Ryan's pleas to federal agencies included letters to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis seeking stimulus grant money for two Wisconsin energy conservation companies.
One of them, the nonprofit Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp., received $20.3 million from the Energy Department to help homes and businesses improve energy efficiency, according to federal records. That company, he said in his letter, would build "sustainable demand for green jobs." Another eventual recipient, the Energy Center of Wisconsin, received about $365,000.
RYAN: Said Obama misled people in Ryan's hometown of Janesville, Wis., by making them think a General Motors plant there threatened with closure could be saved. "A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: 'I believe that if our government is there to support you . this plant will be here for another hundred years.' That's what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year."
THE FACTS: The plant halted production in December 2008, weeks before Obama took office and well before he enacted a more robust auto industry bailout that rescued GM and Chrysler and allowed the majority of their plants -- though not the Janesville facility -- to stay in operation. Ryan himself voted for an auto bailout under President George W. Bush that was designed to help GM, but he was a vocal critic of the one pushed through by Obama that has been widely credited with revitalizing both GM and Chrysler.
RYAN: Obama "created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing."
THE FACTS: It's true that Obama hasn't heeded his commission's recommendations, but Ryan's not the best one to complain. He was a member of the commission and voted against its final report. Congress made it clear it would not approve the panel's recommendations.