Yesterday, at an ABC News panel, Mitt Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Wednesday’s speech from Paul Ryan certainly took that disdain for truth to heart, as his address was filled with falsehoods from start to finish.
Let’s start with the chronologically impossible. Ryan spoke about the GM plant in his hometown of Janesville:
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. It is locked up and empty to this day. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.
Set aside the fact that Paul Ryan, in a fit of anti-Randianism, asked for government funds to save the plant. Set aside that he voted for the big-government auto bailout. Ryan also conveniently forgot to mention that GM announced the closure of the plant in early June 2008. In fact, Ryan and then-Wisconsin Sens. Russ Feingold (D) and Herb Kohl (D) sent a letter that month to GM CEO Rick Wagoner asking him to reconsider. This was not just before Barack Obama was inaugurated or even elected; it was the same day he won his own party’s nomination. There was no way Obama could have saved that auto plant without also discovering time travel.
Despite his problems with calendars, how did Ryan fare when it came to his own record? Well, he also inveighed against Obama on the national debt:
[Obama] created a bipartisan debt commission [, the Simpson-Bowles commission]. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.
But Ryan was on that commission, and he voted against that “urgent report.” Also, the president did not do “exactly nothing”: The White House released a debt plan last September, despite Republicans’ best attempts to pretend it doesn’t exist. Finally, if the crisis is so urgent, why does Ryan’s own budget proposal not balance the budget until the 2030s?
One more example — a line from his attack on Obama’s stimulus:
The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst.
As Time’s Michael Grunwald, who has just published a new book about the stimulus, points out, “Experts had warned that 5 percent of the stimulus could be lost to fraud, but investigators have documented less than $10 million in losses — about 0.001 percent.” Solyndra has been the exception, not the rule.
These are just three examples, and there are many others: attacking the president for “raiding” Medicare when his own budget calls for cutting the same amount of money from the program; claiming fiscal rectitude after voting for the two wars, Medicare expansion and tax cuts that remain key drivers of our federal deficit; and so on.
With tonight’s speech, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have doubled down on their twin bets of 2012 — that journalists will sit back and name winners and losers without regard to who is telling the truth, and that voters are too ignorant to care about the truth. Do not let them be right.
Update (2:35 p.m.): I’ve written more on the Janesville distortion — which seems to be getting the most attention — in a new post: “Five reasons Paul Ryan’s GM attack was dishonest”.
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More on Ryan’s speech from the Washington Post: