Snap Fact #304 - While Fact Checkers Point Out Some Spin in President Obama’s Speech; They Clobber Ryan’s Incredible Mendacity!

Post date: Sep 12, 2012 12:53:27 PM

Snap Fact #304

While Fact Checkers Point Out Some Spin in President Obama’s Speech; They Clobber Ryan’s Incredible Mendacity!

"The trouble with the world is not that people know too little, but that they know so many things that aren't true."

 - attributed to Mark Twain

Speakers, including the main ones at both conventions did some spinning and some outright lying according to the fact checkers who were busy trying to find where the truth was upheld, where it was tilted, and where is was destroyed.

Although many “fact checkers” are not worthy of the name due to their commitment to fit their opinions neatly into their pre-conceived notions, there are enough objective researchers to get a pretty good picture.

The overwhelming consensus from the legitimate examiners is that there was spin from both sides, this is an unfortunate but acceptable part of the game, but both the volume of misstatements and lies were weighted heavily to the Republican side. No one drew dense fire more than Governor Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan.

The fact is that Paul Ryan outright lied about the U.S. credit rating, the debt and deficit, Medicare, the Janesville GM plant, the stimulus, and “Protecting the Poor.” There is general agreement that Ryan is a snake oil salesman. Here is a small sample of comments on Ryan’s speech.


 “Ryan went on TV and lied to his own party and the American public at large, in what was essentially his job interview.” - Lindy West (Jezebel).


“Paul Ryan bets on the ignorance of America.” - Dan Amira (N.Y. Times Magazine).


“Paul Ryan pushed American politics into new territory with his convention speech, effectively daring Democrats and the media to call him out on his string of blatant falsehoods.” - Michael Tomasky (The Daily Beast).


Paul Ryan's speech at the Republican National Convention  "was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech." - Sally Cohn (FOX News reporter).


“I have been writing about [Ryan’s] dishonesty for three years. I have the equivalent of a master’s degree in Ryan lie-ology. I’ve heard many of his lurid fantasies innumerable times... — his deep dishonesty largely reflects the fundamental gap between the radicalism of his agenda and his need for public acceptance.” - Ryan Lizza (The New Yorker).


“This year’s Republican campaign may be the most dishonest in history.” - Juan Cole (Informed Comment).


“One depressing aspect of American politics is the susceptibility of the political and media establishment to charlatans.”- Paul Krugman (Nobel Economist).


"[Ryan's] major lies call for a major, multi-media counter attack larger than any single ad or Obama campaign rebuttal." - Frank Rich (N.Y. Times; New York Magazine.


Glaring lies from GOP V.P. candidate Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech.


1. U.S. Credit Rating.  “A downgraded America.”  


 Ryan falsely blamed the president for the nation’s credit downgrade from the AAA credit rating to AA+  in August 2011 after Republicans threatened to allow the government to default on its debt for the first time in history. The truth is that Standard & Poors downgraded the country’s sovereign debt rating because congressional Republicans, of which Ryan is a key leader, threatened to not increase the country’s borrowing authority — risking a default on the debt — unless Democrats agreed to slash trillions of dollars from domestic social programs and investments. Ryan even briefly toyed with the idea that the country’s creditors would forgive default for “a day or two or three or four” as long as Democrats ultimately agreed to GOP demands. The ratings agency explicitly blamed “Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal.” According to Fact, Standard and Poors blamed the loss of credit rating blamed the downgrade on the “uncompromising stands of both Republicans and Democrats.” However, ABC News reported that: “Among the reasons cited... ‘Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal.’ ”[31]


2. The National Debt.  “...More debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.” “[the bipartisan debt commission] came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”


 These false claims are, to be generous, based on poor arithmetic and a bad memory: When Obama took office, the national debt (the sum of all previously incurred annual federal deficits) was $10.626 trillion. The Debt Clock records that it has increased as of today to slightly more than $16 trillion.[J] The percentage of the current U.S. debt that was accumulated during the Republican presidential terms: 71 percent.[C] When Ronald Reagan took office, the total federal debt was still under $1 trillion ($909 billion). By the end of the 12-year Republican reign of Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the total debt had quadrupled. [G]

     As for the Bowles-Simpson bipartisan debt commission: Ryan sat on that commission. In fact, Ryan “was a pivotal figure in killing the 2010 Bowles-Simpson agreement.”  There was no “urgent report.” The commission never made any recommendations for Barack Obama to support or oppose. Why not? Because the commission voted down its own recommendations.”[7]  Ryan sabotaged it and voted against it. Following his lead, so did the panel’s other House Republicans.[G] Michael Tomasky writes: “It just boggles the mind to imagine how Paul Ryan   can stand up there and lash Barack Obama for abandoning Bowles-Simpson when he did exactly that himself.” 

Glaring lies from GOP V.P. candidate Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech.

3. The Stimulus.   “The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst."


Ryan contradicted the truth. During his speech, Ryan criticized the stimulus, calling it "the first troubling sign" of the Obama administration. “[That money] was borrowed, spent, and wasted. Maybe the greatest waste of all time.” The truth is there is a broad consensus based on serious analyses that the stimulus, The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), a $787 billion stimulus, was an effective piece of legislation (latter increased to $840 billion in the 2012 federal budget). It was admittedly not enough—the GOP and conservative Democrats fought against the perceived amount needed, but the reality is the stimulus kept the United States out of a depression and significantly improved prospects for recovery.[F]

     The public needs to know that the ardent admirer of fiction writer and “free marketer” Ayn Rand, Paul Ryan, sought and received stimulus funds for businesses in his District. In fact, in 2002 when the then President George W. Bush proposed stimulus spending, Ryan supported it.[13]  The Boston Globe reported that Ryan sought stimulus funds for local businesses even while he was criticizing the stimulus as wasteful in 2009. In 2010, Ryan asked for $20 million in stimulus money from Obama for companies in his district, then repeatedly denied requesting stimulus funds.[13] 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.[16]


4. Medicare.   $716 billion, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama...” “...even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare.”


This is a deliberate distortion of Obamacare’s savings from eliminating inefficiencies. Obama did use those Medicare savings — in the form of targeted cuts in payments to providers, not in benefits to seniors — to pay for the health care law. Ryan’s budget calls for using them to finance tax cuts for wealthy Americans, and deficit reduction. Ryan forged his reputation in large part by drafting and advancing an unpopular plan to dramatically cut and privatize Medicare. Though he didn’t mention that plan once in his convention speech, Ryan included it in his last two budgets. Romney has vowed to restore the cuts, which would render the trust fund insolvent 8 years ahead of schedule.  Ryan falsely claims that “the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly... while his own "budget" had those same cuts. He believes wholeheartedly in ending Medicare as a guaranteed benefit. [38]


5. Janesville General Motors Plant.   Shuttered General Motors plant is “one more broken promise.”


 Ryan, ignoring the inconsistency of a Republican chastising Obama for not bailing out more auto  manufacturers, criticized Obama for not using government funds to prop up an auto plant in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin. Ryan blamed Obama for breaking his promise to keep the plant open when he visited during his campaign. Obama never made that promise, however, and the plant shut down in December 2008, before Obama even took office.


6. Protecting the Poor. “The greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak.”


Ryan’s hypocrisy is unabashed. In 2005, Ryan gave a speech at The Atlas Society where he extolled Ayn Rand who “taught” him “quite a bit about who” he was and “what [his] value systems...and...beliefs” were. Interestingly, Ayn Rand’s philosophy is considered one of the ugliest in the postwar world because it reflects not only selfishness but the belief that the poor deserve to die and the rich deserve unmediated power.

Contradiction is no problem for Ryan, who closed his convention speech with an invocation of social responsibility, saying, “The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves.” No doubt the late Rand would take umbrage with this concept. And numerous clergy members alive today have condemned Ryan’s budget plan as “cruel,” and “an immoral disaster” because of its devastating cuts in social programs the poor and sick rely on. Meanwhile, Ryan would give ultra-rich individuals and corporations $3 trillion in tax breaks. Just under two thirds of the dramatic spending cuts in Ryan’s budget target programs that benefit low-income people. That plan also calls for large tax cuts for high-income earners. [L]


[The above summaries are primarily a composite of excerpts from Brian Beutler, Aviva Shen, and Think Progress, plus a few additional sources. See list of sources and suggested reading below. ]


Lies are an unacceptable basis on which American voters should make their choices to decide on the future of the nation.

 An informed voter is a responsible voter.

 Sources and suggested reading in a list of articles related to Paul Ryan’s claims:


[1] Amira, Dan.  “Paul Ryan Bets on the Ignorance of America.” New York Magazine, 2012-08-29.


 [2] Barro, Josh.  “Paul Ryan’s Hypocritical Attack on Barack Obama.” Bloomberg, 2012-08-29.


 [3] Beauchamp, Zack. “How The Media Soft-Plays Paul Ryan’s Lies: ‘Factual Shortcuts.’ ‘Perceived Inaccuracies,’” “Questionable Claims.”


 [4] Benen, Steve. “Maddowblog: Paul Ryan stands on a foundation of lies.”


 [5] Beutler, Brian. “Top 5 Fibs In Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech.” TPM 2012-08-30.


 [6] Bernstein, Jared.  “America, We Have a Problem.” Huffington Post, 2012-08-30.


 [7] Bernstein, Jonathan.  “Paul Ryan fails – the truth.” The Washington Post, 2012-08-29.


 [8] Berrier, Justin, Marcus Feldman, Matt Gertz, Hannah Groch-Begley, Jeremy Holden, & Solange Uwimana. “Fox Disregarded Numerous Falsehoods To Lavish Praise On Paul Ryan Speech.” Media Matters, 2012-08-10.


 [9] Cesca, Bob.  “Paul Ryan’s Speech: Lies, Lies and More Lies.” 2012-08-30.


 [10] Chait, Jonathan.  “Paul Ryan’s Large Lies and One Truth.” New York, 2012-08-30.


 [11] Chittum, Ryan.  “The Wall Street Journal lets Paul Ryan go all but unchecked.” Misleading claims get ignored or given he said-she said treatment.  The Audi, Columbia Journalism Review, 2012-08-31.


 [12] Cohn, Jonathan.  “The Most Dishonest Convention Speech…Ever?” The New Republic, 2012-08-29.

 _______ ”OK, Ryan. Let’s Talk About Janesville And the Auto Industry.” The New Republic, 2012-08-30.


 [13] Cole, Juan. “Top ten Repeated Paul Ryan Lies.” Informed Comment, 2012-08-30.


 [14] Cooper, Michael.  “Fact-Checking Ryan’s Convention Speech.” The New York Times, 2012-08-30. he made several statements that were incorrect, incomplete or incompatible with his own record in Congress.


 [15] Dionne Jr., E.J. “Condoleezza Rice outshines Paul Ryan.” “…clearly Ryan picked up the Romney campaign’s habit of playing fast and loose with facts.” The Washington Post, 2012-08-30.


 [16] Downie, James. “Paul Ryan’s breathtakingly dishonest speech.” The Washington Post, 2012-0-30.


 [17] Easley, Jason. “The 5 Biggest Lies in Paul Ryan’s RNC Acceptance Speech.” PoliticusUSA, 2012-08-230.


 [18] Fact “Ryan’s VP Spin.” 2012-08-30.


 [19] Fallows, James.  “Paul Ryan and the Post-Truth Convention  Speech.” The Atlantic, 2012-08-30.


 [20] Firestone, David.  “Beyond Factual Dishonesty.” The New York Times, 2012-08-30.


[21] Gillum, Jack.  “FACT CHECK: Convention speakers stray from reality.” Associated Press, 2021-08-29.


 [22] Gillum, Jack and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar.  “AP Fact Check: Ryan Takes Shortcuts in Speech.” NBCconnecticut, 2012-08-30.


 [23] Grim, Ryan.  “Paul Ryan Address: Convention Speech Built On Demonstrably Misleading Assertions.” Huffington Post, 2012-08-30.


 [24] Groch-Begley, Hannah.  “In Lockstep: Conservative Media Turn To Attacking The Fact-Checkers.” Media Matters, 2012-08-31.


 [25] Hertsgaard, Mark.  “Saving Lyin’ Ryan.” The Huffington Post, 2012-08-30.


 [26] Kavoussi, Bonnie.  “Fox News' Sally Kohn: Paul Ryan's RNC Speech 'Was Attempt To Set World Record For Blatant Lies.'” The Huffington Post, 2012-08-30.


 [27] Kessler, Glenn.  “Ryan misleads on GM plant closing in hometown.” The Washington Post, 2012-08-29.  


 [28] Klein, Ezra.  “A not-very-truthful speech in a not-very-truthful campaign.” The Washington Post, 2012-08-30.


 [29] Kohn, Sally.  “Paul Ryan’s speech in 3 words.” Fox News, 2012-08-30.


 [30] Kornacki, Steve.  “How Paul Ryan gets away with BS. So far, the media response to Ryan's flagrantly dishonest VP acceptance speech is just what the GOP was counting on.” Salon, 2012-08-30.


 [31] Legum, Judd. “Why Paul Ryan’s Lies Matter.” Think Progress, 2012-09-01.


 [32] Lizza, Ryan.  “The Paul Ryan Speech: Five Hypocrisies.” The New Yorker, 2012-08-30.


 [33] Mattingly, Phil and Heidi Przybyla.  “Ryan Speech Studded With Errors, Say Obama Team, Fact Checkers.” Bloomberg News, 2012-08-30.


 [34] McCarthy, Tom.  “Paul Ryan’s speech: a round-up of his most audacious untruths.” The Guardian, 2012-08-30.


 [35] Mirkinson, Jack.  “Media Calls Out Paul Ryan Acceptance Speech For Falsehoods.”  Huffington Post, 2012-08-29.  


 [36] Nyhan, Brendan.  “Ignored factchecks and the media’s crisis of confidence.” Whatever campaigns may do, aggressive truth-telling is the right approach for reporters. Campaign Desk, Swing States Project. Columbia Journalism Review, 2012-08-30.


[37] Pareene, Alex.  “Ignoring and defending Paul Ryan’s lies.” After Ryan's dishonest performance, the objective press falters, and the right-wing machine begins its push-back. Salon, 2012-08-30.


 [38] Pierce, Charles P. “Paul Ryan Is the Newest New Nixon, a Moocher Belied.”  Esquire, 2012-08-30.


 [39] Saletan, William.  “Dear Paul.” Why I’m breaking up with Paul Ryan.” Slate, 2012-08-29.


 [40] Sargent, Greg.  “Wisconsin business leader and Ryan supporter: Not clear Obama to blame for closed GM plant.” The Washington Post, 2012-08-30.


 [41] Schlesinger, Robert.  “Paul Ryan Repeats Auto Bailout, Medicare Lies.” U.S. News, 2012-08-29.


 [42] Seitz-Wald, Alex.   “Paul Ryan: The definitive fact-check.” A comprehensive guide to the candidate's lies or misrepresentations from his big RNC speech.  Salon, 2012-08-08.


 [43] Shapiro, Walter.   “Paul Ryan’s marathon puffery matters less than his convention whopper.”Yahoo News, 2012-09-05.


 [44] Shen, Aviva. “6 Worse Lies in Paul Ryan’s Speech.” Think Progress, 2012-08-30.


 [45] Stan, Adel.  “Paul Ryan Obscures His Koch-Backed Agenda With a Pack of Lies in Convention Speech.”

 Koch mouthpiece Paul Ryan accepts the nomination for VP and speaks to GOP party faithful at the convention. The Huffington Pos†, 2012-08-29.

 [46] _______ “6 Big Lies By Republican National Convention Speakers, Day One.” The entire program of the convention's opening night was based on a deception wrapped up in falsehoods. The Huffington Post, 2012-08-29.


 [47] Stein, Sam and Amanda Terkel.  “Paul Ryan Republican Convention Speech: Safe, Straight And A Carnivore’s Delight.” Huffington Post, 2012-08-30.    


 [48] Stewart, Jon.  VIDEO: “Jon Stewart Mocks Inaccuracies In Paul Ryan’s VP Acceptance Speech.” The Huffington Post, 2012-08-31.


 [49] Sullivan, Andrew.  “The Lies And Lies And Lies of Paul Ryan.” The Daily Beast, 2012-08-30.


 [50] Tomasky, Michael. “…Paul Ryan’s Convention Speech and His Web of Lies.” The Daily Beast, 2012-08-12.


 [51] Walsh, Joan.  “Paul Ryan’s brazen lies.” His Republican National Convention speech was stunning for its dishonesty. Salon, 2012-08-29.


[52] Washington Post.  “Mr. Ryan’s misleading speech.” Editorial Board, 2012-08-29.


 [53] Weigel, Dave. “Dispatches From the Republican National Convention.” Entry 13: Here’s a list of some of the whoppers that Paul Ryan served up Wednesday night. Slate, 2012-08-29.


 [54] West, Lindy.  “Why Lying Is Bad: A Primer for Confused Republicans.” Jezebel, 2012-08-30.

[55] CNN Fact Checks the Democratic Convention.


Other Sources and suggested reading:


[A] Boardman, William.  “GOP’s Fact-Challenged Convention.” Consortium News, 2012-08-31.

 [B] Foser, James.  “Why we need the media to focus on the facts.” Media Matters, 2009-08-13.

 [C] Harper’s Magazine, October 2011: New York Times/Harper’s research.

 [D] Krugman, Paul. “The Flimflam Man.” The New York Times, 2010—08-05.

 [E] Lizza, Ryan. “Fussbudget.” How Paul Ryan captured the G.O.P.  The New Yorker, 2012-08-06.

 [F] Matthews, Dylan.  “Did the stimulus work? A review of the nine best studies on the subject.” The Washington Post, 2011-08-24.

 [G] Parry, Robert.  “Lessons from America’s Lost Decade.” ConsortiumNews, 2010-01-15.

 [H] Przybyla, Heidi.  “Ryan Helped Derail Simpson-Bowles Plan Romney Now Sees as Model.” Bloomberg Businessweek, 2012-08-13.

 [I] Semuels, Alana. “Paul Ryan now says his office requested stimulus funds.” Los Angeles Times, 2012-07-17.

 [J] Standard and Poors.  “United States of America Long-Term Rating Lowered To 'AA+' Due To Political Risks, Rising Debt Burden; Outlook Negative.” 2011-08-05.

 [K] U.S. Debt Clock.

 [L] Waldron, Travis. “Paul Ryan’s Budget Includes $3 Trillion Giveaway To Corporations, The Rich.” ThinkProgress, 2012-03-20.