Rather than telling “hard truths,” Ryan misled

Republican National Convention keynote speaker Governor Chris Christie said the American people would be told “hard truths.”

And vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a House Republican leader, has been touted as “wonky” and courageous, so one might think he’d be telling some of them.

But Ryan’s speech, while claiming a mantle of truth and carrying a bold tone, was riddled with falsehoods and omissions. [See a set of links to fact-checks at the bottom of this post.]

On Medicare, Ryan expressed nothing of the reality of the Republican proposal to turn it into a voucher program with vouchers that are worth less as time goes on so seniors would have to come up with $6500 simply to buy insurance. So much for courage and wonkiness.

Ryan also repeated the falsehood that President Obama has undermined Medicare. As I’ve documented before, Obamacare increased benefits for people on Medicare and extended its solvency. Ryan would also undermine Medicaid, which seniors without resources depend on for nursing home care and more. Over a third of Medicare recipients in Maine also receive Medicaid, also known as MaineCare.

But these were just some of the lies.

Ryan started out by criticizing Obama for not keeping a Wisconsin auto plant open, but the factory closed while George W. Bush was president.

He misinformed about the stimulus, giving an inaccurate figure, ignoring that one-third of it was in tax cuts and claiming Obama got everything he wanted when he had to negotiate certain pieces away. For example, Senator Collins nixed a proposal to renovate and upgrade school buildings across the country.

Ryan portrayed Obama as against Simpson-Bowles and other efforts to reduce debt and deficit. He was on the committee that developed the Simpson-Bowles plan, but voted against it and organized others to do so, leaving it without enough votes for it to be considered a report from the committee. His main objection was that it included tax increases. Ryan also objected to a major proposal from the president to reduce the federal deficit, again because it included some tax increases.

There are broader problems with the Ryan speech. For one, it is impossible to square his contention that his budget protects poor people after the Catholic bishops criticized it for moral failings precisely because two-thirds of the cuts would hit the poor, while delivering new tax cuts to the wealthy.

And the claim that Ryan wants to restore opportunity rings hollow, since the budget cuts key programs in education and health care that promote opportunity.

These broader claims deserve more scrutiny and more will be forthcoming.

Meanwhile, for more details, see these fact checks from:

The Associated Press (multiple speakers)

Fact Checker (multiple statements)

FactCheck.org (on the Ryan speech)

Jonathan Bernstein (on the debt commission and more)

Jonathan Cohn (with a graph showing the causes of the federal deficit)

David Weigel (with a list of five Ryan misstatements)

Amy Fried

About Amy Fried

Amy Fried loves Maine's sense of community and the wonderful mix of culture and outdoor recreation. She loves politics in three ways: as an analytical political scientist, a devoted political junkie and a citizen who believes politics matters for people's lives. Fried is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine. Her views do not reflect those of her employer or any group to which she belongs.