Last night on the stage at the Republican National Convention Rep. Paul Ryan found out what it would take to make the mainstream media stand up and start calling out falsehoods and lies in a political campaign. The Vice Presidential candidate from Janesville did himself a serious disservice when he trumpeted for the national audience of the RNC an erroneous talking point he’d been using on the campaign trail – that President Barack Obama was responsible for the 2008 GM Janesville plant closure.
Ryan wasn’t the only Wisconsinite trying to foist the blame for the Janesville plant closing on Obama last night. Gov. Scott Walker found himself on MSNBC and being challenged by Rachel Maddow regarding Ryan’s statement. Maddow asked if Walker was saying the auto bailout wasn’t big enough to reopen the Janesville plant.
Walker responded that the plant had two rounds of layoffs and ultimately closed down “just a few years ago.”
The plant, which is in the Congressional district Ryan’s represented since 1999, was closed for production of GM vehicles in December of 2008, a month before Obama was sworn in. It remained open until April of 2009 to finish a subcontract the plant had with Isuzu.
Politifact researched the allegation after Ryan first made it in mid-August and found:
We don’t see evidence he explicitly made such a promise — and more importantly, the Janesville plant shut down before he took office.
We rate Ryan’s statement False.
Walker, who found himself briefly twisting in the wind, was given an out when Al Sharpton and Ed Schultz tried to match Maddow’s challenge by bombastically speaking over the Governor.
The Wisconsin Governor could also share some of the burdens for the Janesville plant closure. In 2011, with GM on the rebound thanks in part to the auto bailout (which Ryan voted in favor of, but later claimed he was misled and the government would never see that money again) the company was looking to dust off some plants that had been shuttered. Janesville was in the running along with Spring Hill, Tenn.
Tennessee made a robust lobbying effort to convince GM that Spring Hill was the right plant to reactivate. Community leaders, politicians, and even the Governor practically moved to Detroit in an attempt to get the plant online and making headlines in their efforts to do so. Nary a news brief was produced out of Wisconsin highlighting any effort the Walker administration may have been making to get Janesville back on track. In the final week of decision making Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam was in Detroit making a closing pitch, but Walker was on a fundraising tour in Kentucky raising money to fight his recall.
The GM plant isn’t the only tall tale Ryan has been taken to task for spinning last night. Fox News summed the speech up overall as being “dazzling, deceiving, and distracting.”
He challenged Obama for taking $716 billion out of Medicare, even though that’s nearly the same amount of money Ryan himself has proposed to take from the program. According to the New York Times, if Ryan is sincere about abandoning his own budget proposal in favor of Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s pledge to restore the $716 billion Obama removed it would only add to the insolvency of the program:
The 2010 health care law cut Medicare reimbursements to hospitals and insurers, not benefits for older Americans, by that amount over the coming decade. But repealing the savings, policy analysts say, would hasten the insolvency of Medicare by eight years — to 2016, the final year of the next presidential term, from 2024.
Ryan attempted to criticize Obama for not heeding recommendations of the bipartisan debt commission. Ryan was on that commission and he voted down the commission’s recommendations, so they never made it to the President. Did Ryan expect Obama to follow through on recommendations the Congressman didn’t personally think were worth delivering to the White House?
There are many more examples:
New York Times editor David Firestone: Beyond Factual Honesty
Wahington Post’s Editorial Board: Mr. Ryan’s misleading speech
Boston Globe’s Peter Canellos: Paul Ryan’s attacks on Obama may hurt his own credibility
The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn: The Most Dishonest Convention Speech…Ever?
U.S. News and World Report: Paul Ryan Repeats Auto Bailout, Medicare Lies
This article originally appeared at dane101.com on August 30, 2012.