By all accounts, GOP vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan gave an energetic and workmanlike speech before the Republican National Convention in Tampa last night.
The problem is, news coverage is leading off today detailing the wealth of false statements in Ryan’s speech–more than the quality of its delivery. Nonpartisan fact checkers like the AP have done an uncharacteristically good job unpacking everything Ryan said:
Laying out the first plans for his party’s presidential ticket, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan took some factual shortcuts Wednesday night when he attacked President Barack Obama’s policies on Medicare, the economic stimulus and the budget deficit…
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…
Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler:
In his acceptance speech, GOP Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan appeared to suggest that President Obama was responsible for the closing of a GM plant in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisc.
That’s not true. The plant was closed in December, 2008, before Obama was sworn in… [Pols emphasis]
Brett LoGiurato of Business Insider:
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan’s speech is getting slammed for some pretty heavy inaccuracies. One line, though, stuck out more than the rest, particularly because it’s Ryan who is attacking President Barack Obama on the subject: “It began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.”
…Look at who the S&P blames in its statement:
Compared with previous projections, our revised base case scenario now assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place. We have changed our assumption on this because the majority of Republicans in Congress [Pols emphasis] continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues…
One more from the AP:
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…that company, he said in his letter, would build “sustainable demand for green jobs.”
Setting aside partisan opinions on some or all of these issues, the overarching problem for the Romney-Ryan ticket coming out of this is that an acceptance speech is supposed to build trust with voters who don’t know you. You’re supposed to make your case for election, sure, but you need to leave the voters with a sense that your rousing speechification is believable.
With most coverage today focused on Ryan’s factual challenges, that test was not met.