Updated, 2:30 p.m.: Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan gave the most energizing speech thus far of the Republican National Convention on Wednesday. Unfortunately, it was filled with fibs and misleading statements.
Ryan was unquestionably an effective attack dog. "They've run out of ideas. Their moment came and went. ... With all their attack ads, the president is just throwing away money. And he's pretty experienced at that," Ryan said to an awakened crowd.
The most notable thing about Ryan's speech, however, was how free he felt to stretch the truth and leave out obvious context. We've seen that tactic in 30-second TV ads from both sides, but for a party's vice presidential nominee to do so on the biggest stage of the campaign was stark.
The web is filled today with analyses breaking down Ryan's speech. We'll save you some time and effort and just summarize a handful of the most misleading things we heard (and we'll do the same when the Democrats come to Charlotte next week):
- The stretch: Ryan said Obama promised to keep a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin open, but that plant is now closed. The truth: GM decided to close the plant in December 2008, when George W. Bush was president. And Ryan opposed Obama's GM bailout, which is now widely credited with saving the company and the industry.
- The stretch: Ryan said the Bowles-Simpson debt reduction commission sent Obama "an urgent report" that he then ignored. The truth: Obama certainly ignored Simpson-Bowles. But Ryan himself was on the commission and voted against the Simpson-Bowles plan. The lack of support by Ryan and others on the commission relieved Congress of having to act on it.
- The stretch: Ryan referred to "$716 billion, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama," saying it came "at the expense of the elderly." The truth: Obama's cuts to Medicare do not reduce benefits to seniors. They reduce future reimbursement rates to hospitals and insurance plans. And they haven't happened; they take place over 10 years. Ryan included the same cuts in his budget plan. In fact, Ryan's Medicare plan reduces spending on the program more than Obama did.
- The stretch: Ryan blamed Obama for the S&P downgrade of America's credit rating. The truth: The downgrade happened because Republicans in Congress took the nation to the brink over raising the debt ceiling. In its downgrade after that showdown, S&P blamed Republicans in Congress, like Ryan, who "continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues."
Neil Newhouse, a pollster for the Romney campaign, this week said: “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” And Paul Ryan proves it.
-- Taylor Batten