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8:12 am
Thu August 30, 2012

Fact Checkers Say Some Of Ryan's Claims Don't Add Up

Originally published on Wed September 5, 2012 9:02 am

Rep. Paul Ryan stretched some truths Wednesday night when he accepted the Republican Party's 2012 vice presidential nomination, according to the fact checkers who parse politicians' words for news outlets and independent watchdogs:

-- FactCheck.org found several problems with what Ryan said. Among them: Ryan "accused President Obama's health care law of funneling money away from Medicare 'at the expense of the elderly.' In fact, Medicare's chief actuary says the law 'substantially improves' the system's finances, and Ryan himself has embraced the same savings."

FactCheck also notes that Ryan "accused Obama of doing "exactly nothing" about recommendations of a bipartisan deficit commission — which Ryan himself helped scuttle."

Update at 11:45 a.m. ET: Ryan was in fact a member of that commission, but opposed its plan, "arguing it didn't do enough to cut health care costs," as NPR's John Ydstie reported in December 2010.

-- The Wisconsin congressman earned a "false" rating from PolitiFact.com on one statement. He got it for noting that then-candidate Barack Obama told the people of Janesville, Wis. (Ryan's home town) that the GM plant there would be open another 100 years if the government gave it the right support. "That plant didn't last another year," Ryan said, implying that Obama broke a promise. Ryan didn't say that the plant actually closed in 2008, before Obama took office.

Update at 11:45 a.m. ET: 93 Percent Of SUV Plant's Workers Were Let Go In December 2008.

The Associated Press reported on April 19, 2009, that "GM spokesman Christopher Lee confirmed operations at the southern Wisconsin plant will cease Thursday. About 1,200 employees were let go just before Christmas when GM ended SUV production at the plant. Some 100 workers were retained to finish an order of small- to medium-duty trucks for Isuzu Motors. Lee said most of those workers will be laid off Thursday. He said others will be kept on to help with the plant's shutdown." (Note: we messed up earlier and mistakenly put "2009" in the subhead above.)

The local Gazette wrote in April 2009 that "GM spokesman Chris Lee said another 40 to 50 employees in skilled trade" would "work to decommission the plant." In 1970, when Ryan was born, the plant employed 7,000 people. The newspaper's coverage of the plant closing is collected here.

PolitiFact says the plant effectively "closed while [President George W.] Bush was still in office, about a month before Obama was inaugurated."

-- Ryan "took some factual shortcuts," The Associated Press says. For instance, Ryan said the economic stimulus package passed in the early days of the Obama administration "was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal."

The AP says that: "Ryan himself asked for stimulus funds shortly after Congress approved the $800 billion plan, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Ryan's pleas to federal agencies included letters to Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis seeking stimulus grant money for two Wisconsin energy conservation companies."

-- And as for the recurring "we built it" theme of the convention and Republicans' insistence that Obama doesn't think business people deserve credit for their successes — a line of attack Ryan returned to — The Washington Post's Fact Checker has now given the GOP "four Pinocchios" on that one.

When the president said "you didn't build that," the Post has concluded, he appeared "to be making the unremarkable point that companies and entrepreneurs often benefit in some way from taxpayer support for roads, education and so forth. In other words, he [was] trying to make the case for higher taxes, and for why he believes the rich should pay more, which as we noted is part of a long Democratic tradition. He just did not put it very eloquently."

Update at 3:30 p.m. ET: We've put together a post headlined "Janesville Debate: Dissecting Ryan's Claim, Obama's 'Promise' & The Facts."

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