Paul Ryan and the Carnival of Lies


The New Republic dubbed Rep. Paul Ryan’s RNC convention performance last night the most dishonest convention speech ever. Jonathan Cohn calls out the five biggest lies. Think Progress calls out six:

Here are the most glaring lies from his speech:

1. “A downgraded America.” Ryan blamed the president for the nation’s credit downgrade in August 2011 after Republicans threatened to allow the government to default on its debt for the first time in history. But the ratings agency explicitly blamed “Republicans saying that they refuse to accept any tax increases as part of a larger deal.”

2. “More debt than any other president before him, and more than all the troubled governments of Europe combined.” Romney has made the almost identical claim, that Obama has amassed more debt “as almost all of the other presidents combined.” But their math doesn’t add up: when Obama took office, the national debt was $10.626 trillion. It has increased to slightly above $15 trillion.

3. Shuttered General Motors plant is “one more broken promise.” Ryan described a GM plant that closed down in his hometown, Janesville, Wisconsin, and blamed Obama for breaking his promise to keep the plant open when he visited during his campaign. But Obama never made that promise, and the plant shut down in December 2008, before Obama even took office.

4. Obama “did exactly nothing” on Bowles-Simpson. Ryan said, “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” In fact, Ryan was instrumental in sabotaging the commission, leading the other House Republicans in voting against the plan.

5. “$716 billion, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.” Ryan’s favorite lie is a deliberate distortion of Obamacare’s savings from eliminating inefficiencies. Furthermore, Ryan’s own plan for Medicare includes these savings. Romney has vowed to restore these cuts, which would render the trust fund insolvent 8 years ahead of schedule.

6. “The greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak.” Ryan closed the 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.” However, numerous clergy members 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.

A friend reminds me that (4) the commission came to no consensus and never issued a report. Bowles and Simpson issued theirs on their own.

The Stephanie Miller radio show and others have poked fun at Ryan for a resemblance to the fictional Eddie Munster, but today Ed Kilgore calls out Paul Ryan for behavior reminiscent of another fictional Eddie:

The frustrating thing, of course, is that this was the first real glimpse many voters have had of Paul Ryan, and while the people in the hall knew and loved him as the man who is determined to take down the New Deal and Great Society and ban all abortions, his audacious evasion in the speech of everything controversial about his record and his agenda certainly presented a different persona. In a conversation with Paul Glastris this morning, he mentioned that when looking at Paul Ryan last night he kept seeing the face of Eddie Haskell. That’s exactly right: he’s the nasty piece of work who unctuously pretends to be someone else entirely when he need to do so. It only works when it’s done without a shred of conscience, but Ryan was up to the task. But since Ryan was supposed to be the brave truth-teller on the ticket, what on earth does that say about the kind of mendacity we are likely to hear from Mitt Romney tonight?

Laffy at The Political Carnival posted on the Haskell similarities weeks ago.

The Romney-Ryan-RNC campaign’s claim that the president stole billions in seniors’ Medicare benefits has been condemned by fact checkers here and abroad, but that has not stopped them from repeating it. Adele Stan at Alternet explains:

The gamble the Romney campaign has made throughout this campaign, and most obviously in this year’s Republican National Convention, is that the truth no longer matters, and that facts are irrelevant to the voting process. There’s probably less risk to that gamble than one might think.

It has long been proven that people vote based on their emotions and their self-determined cultural identity. Because the narrative offered by Ryan and Romney feeds on the resentment already felt by so many middle-class whites — a sense that they are somehow being shortchanged while others advance from their previously restricted positions — it resonates. And for the Republican voter, that’s all the “truth” that matters, the “truth” that vindicates his or her rage. Facts be damned — damned to hell.

The welfare work requirement charge being repeated in anti-Obama ads has been branded a “pants on fire” lie by PolitiFact, awarded four Pinocchios by the Washington Post fact checker, and judged false by the Annenberg Public Policy Center’s No matter; there is no sign of them letting up. For all their conservative-values, hands-over-hearts public piety, Team Romney-Ryan-RNC is lying. They know they’re lying. They don’t care that they’re lying. Because they believe lies work for them better than the truth. And they know their base — that they will lap up the lies. And dutifully repeat them to their friends. Because the conservative base will never admit that their own leaders would lie to them. Just as they did with Iraq.

Editorial from a Wisconsin Paper: Paul Ryan rewrites Janesville’s history

Paul Ryan on GM shut down in Janesville: How does political theater improve our economy?

Rock Netroots Commentary: When Janesville planned for recovery, Ryan was nowhere in sight