WASHINGTON — The Republican National Convention is drawing to a close with some factually slippery statements coming from the stage.
Most prominently, on the eve of presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s speech closing the convention Thursday night, running mate Paul Ryan ignored conspicuous parts of his own record on budget cuts, the stimulus and Medicare in his haste to accuse President Barack Obama of taking the economy off the rails.
A closer look at some of Ryan’s remarks Wednesday at the GOP convention in Tampa, Fla.:
RYAN: Obama “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.”
THE FACTS: It’s true that Obama hasn’t heeded his commission’s recommendations, but Ryan’s not the best one to complain. He was a member of the commission and voted against its final report.
RYAN: “And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly. ... So they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.”
THE FACTS: Ryan’s claim ignores the fact that Ryan himself incorporated the same cuts into budgets he steered through the House in the past two years as chairman of its Budget Committee, using the money for deficit reduction. The cuts, used in part to expand health insurance to more people, do not affect Medicare recipients directly but ultimately could by cutting into the profits of hospitals, health insurance plans and other service providers. Even so, the cuts are part of an overhaul that extends the solvency of Medicare’s giant trust fund by eight years.
RYAN: “The stimulus 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 FACTS: Ryan himself asked for stimulus money 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.
One of them, the nonprofit Wisconsin Energy Conservation Corp., received $20.3 million from the Energy Department to help homes and businesses improve energy efficiency, according to federal records. That company, he said in his letter, would build “sustainable demand for green jobs.” Another eventual recipient, the Energy Center of Wisconsin, received about $365,000.
RYAN: Said Obama misled people in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wis., by making them think a General Motors plant there threatened with closure could be saved. “A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you ... this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year.”
THE FACTS: Although Obama did not explicitly promise to save the plant, Ryan is right that Obama implied that he had the backs of its workers when he spoke at the factory early in 2008 and issued a statement about its closure later. The plant halted production in December 2008, weeks before Obama took office and well before he enacted a more robust auto industry bailout that rescued GM and Chrysler and allowed the majority of their plants — though not the Janesville facility — to stay in operation. Ryan himself voted for an auto bailout under President George W. Bush that was designed to help GM, but he was a vocal critic of the one pushed through by Obama that has been widely credited with revitalizing both GM and Chrysler.