By Bill Press
Tribune Media Services
Starting with Jerry Brown in 1976, I’ve been to nine Democratic conventions and seven Republican conventions. And, for better or worse, there are some convention speeches I’ll never forget. Ted Kennedy in 1980, promising “the dream shall never die.” Pat Buchanan in 1992, urging Republicans to fight the “culture wars.” And Barack Obama in 2004, declaring: “There is not a liberal America and a conservative America — there is the United States of America.”
To that list of memorable campaign speeches, now add one more: Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech to the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa. That speech will also go down in history — as the biggest pack of lies ever told to any political convention.
The deliberate lies Ryan brazenly told a national audience were so stunning they shocked even some conservative commentators. Yes, the Washington Post’s James Downie criticized “Paul Ryan’s Breathtakingly Dishonest Speech.” But even Sally Kohn of Fox News — Fox News! — said there were only three words to describe Ryan’s talk: dazzling, distracting, and deceptive. “Ryan’s speech was an apparent attempt to set the world record for the greatest number of blatant lies and misrepresentations slipped into a single political speech,” Kohn reported.
By my count, there were six big lies Paul Ryan tried to get away with. I, among others, am here to make sure he does not.
Lie 1: Ryan slammed candidate Obama for appearing in front of a GM plant in February 2008 in Janesville, Wis., and promising the factory would remain open for another 100 years. “Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.”
Fact: Obama took office in January 2009. GM announced the plant’s closure in June 2008. Ryan didn’t tell his audience that the plant actually closed under George W. Bush. Nor that Mitt Romney, one year later, opposed the government rescue of GM and Chrysler and proposed letting both auto giants collapse — and close all plants.
Lie 2: Ryan attacked Obama’s 2008 stimulus as “a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst,” out of which taxpayers got nothing but more debt.
Fact: According to the Congressional Budget Office, the stimulus is responsible for the creation of up to 3.3 million jobs. It also included a tax cut for 95 percent of Americans. And, in its final form, Paul Ryan voted for it.
Lie 3: Instead of focusing on jobs, Ryan accused President Obama of “an all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care.”
Fact: In no way does the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, put the federal government in charge of health care. Just the opposite. It requires 36 million Americans to buy private health insurance, and will eventually provide a subsidy to those unable to buy private insurance.
Lie 4: Repeating a Romney lie, Ryan accused President Obama of stealing $716 billion from Medicare in order “to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for.”
Fact: That $716 billion represents savings achieved by cutting inflated payments to insurance companies and hospitals under Medicare Advantage. They are credited by the CBO with extending the life of Medicare another eight years. And, under Obama’s plan, those savings are used to provide preventive care such as check-ups and mammograms. Of course, Ryan did not mention that the identical $716 billion in cuts are contained in his own budget, approved twice by House Republicans. The only difference: Ryan would use those funds to help pay for bigger tax cuts for those making more than $250,000 a year.
Lie 5: Ryan deplored the fact that the Obama administration “began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States,” but ended “with a downgraded America.”
Fact: What Ryan didn’t explain is that the only reason we lost our Triple-A credit rating was because Republicans in Congress refused to raise the debt-ceiling in time to reassure world banks we would not default on our credit obligations.
Lie 6: Ryan knocked Obama for not embracing the recommendations of his Simpson-Bowles Deficit Commission. Instead, said Ryan, “he thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”
Fact: Obama’s own plan includes a combination of budget cuts and new tax revenues, as proposed by Simpson-Bowles. Republicans have rejected that plan. Ryan did not reveal that he himself sat on the Simpson-Bowles Commission — and voted against their final report.
Meet the GOP ticket for 2012. Mitt Romney wants to be commander-in-chief. Paul Ryan’s already liar-in-chief.
© 2012 Tribune Media Services, Inc.