This year’s Republican campaign may be the most dishonest in history. A couple of weeks ago I listed 10 major falsehoods and gaffes of Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan. He repeated several of them in his Tampa speech, and added a few more. In honest political debate, when a candidate says something that is not true, he is confronted by journalists and the public, and either gives evidence that it is true, or backs off. Ryan continues to insist on repeating known falsehoods, to the extent that even Fox Cable News lamented his dishonesty.
Voters need to ask who Ryan represents. It is people who make a million dollars a year or more. Everything he says is intended to produce policy that benefits them, and which hurts working people. Millionaires don’t like having to pay for government-provided infrastructure, or health care for workers, and don’t like having to put up with unions. The rest of us like driving on roads without potholes, over bridges that don’t fall down, and not being bankrupted when we need an operation. Since most Americans would be crazy to vote for policies that only benefit our three million wealthiest, out of 310 million, Ryan tries to appeal to workers with religion (banning abortion). He needs to put together a coalition of millionaires and some religious workers in order to win. But even that wouldn’t be enough. He has to get people on his side who would be hurt by his policies. And that requires that he simply lie to them.
So here are some new lies he just retailed, along with a reiteration of my earlier refutation of points drawn from his stock speeches, which he put right back in his Convention speech.
1. Ryan blamed the US credit rating downgrade on President Obama. But it was caused by the Republican Congress’s threat not to raise the debt ceiling. That is, the fault for the credit rating downgrade from AAA to AA belongs with… Paul Ryan.
2. Ryan continues to claim that President Obama said business owners did not build their own businesses. Obama said that business owners benefit from government infrastructure and programs, which they did not build. No small business owner has built an inter-state highway or bridge, but those are the means whereby their goods get to market. Ryan’s (and the GOP’s) talking point in this regard is a typical Karl Rove Big Lie, and among an informed electorate it ought to discredit them.
3. Ryan depicted Obamacare as virtually a turn to Soviet-style totalitarianism, as incompatible with liberal freedoms for the individual. But the logical conclusion is that Ryan’s running mate, Mitt Romney, turned Massachusetts into a Gulag.
4. Ryan slammed President Obama for not implementing the deficit-cutting measures recommended by the Simpson-Bowles commission. But he himself voted against Simpson-Bowles.
5. Ryan keeps attacking Prsident Obama’s stimulus program now. But in 2002 when then President George W. Bush proposed stimulus spending, Ryan supported it. “What we’re trying to accomplish today with the passage of this third stimulus package is to create jobs and help the unemployed,” Ryan told MSNBC in 2002. Ryan says that the stimulus had not positive effects, while economists say it saved or created millions of jobs and pulled the US out of a near-Depression.
6. Even more embarrassing, in 2010, Ryan asked for $20 million in stimulus money from Obama for companies in his district, then repeatedly denied requesting stimulus funds. He finally admitted he had done so, but continues to slam the stimulus program as a failure (even though the economy pulled out of a Depression as a result of it).
7. Ryan slammed President Obama for the closure of an auto plant that closed in late 2008 under George W. Bush. Ryan’s running mate, Mitt Romney, opposed Obama’s actual auto bailout, which was a great success and returned Detroit to profitability.
8. Paul Ryan charges that Barack Obama has ‘stolen’ $700 billion from medicare for his Obamacare. In fact, these expense reductions do not cut Medicare benefits, and, moreover, Romney and Ryan supported these reductions! The difference is that they would give the savings to the affluent, whereas Obama uses them to cover the presently uninsured.
9. Ryan continues to push his longstanding plans for a steal-from-the-elderly-and-give-to-the-rich medicare plan, which President Obama warned would cost ordinary recipients over $6000 a year extra. Politifact checked and rated Obama’s charge as correct, though they noted that the figures referred to CBO analyses of Ryan’s last plan, not his ‘new’ one, which hasn’t been subjected to similar analysis. Ryan certainly recently put forward a plan that would cost ordinary people that much extra.
10. Ryan neglected to note that under the tax plan he favors, Gov. Mitt Romney would pay less than 1% in annual federal taxes, highlighting Romney’s already low rate compared to ordinary Americans (slightly lower than Ryan’s own!) and putting the spotlight back where Ryan’s appointment was supposed to misdirect it.