TAMPA, Fla. Democrats howled all day following U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan’s acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention.
They weren’t mad about the vice presidential candidate’s political views, but they said several of the claims in Ryan’s speech were either false or misleading.
“Paul Ryan brazenly lied to the country. Repeatedly,” claimed Mike Ryan of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
Several Republicans, however, defended Ryan’s remarks.
“To suggest that Paul Ryan is not completely truthful, when he’s the only guy in Washington, D.C. that’s actually put out a comprehensive plan with a budget attached to it, I think is wrong,” said former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush on CNN.
Here’s a look at some of the claims in Ryan’s speech:
PAUL RYAN: “The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism...What did the taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt.”
ANALYSIS: Roughly $290 billion of the $790 billion stimulus went for tax cuts for those with income from work. That money counts as a federal “expenditure,” as Ryan claimed in his speech, only if you consider tax cuts to be a form of government spending, which most Republicans don’t.
Some of the rest of the $500 billion in remaining stimulus funds went for public works projects such as Kansas City’s Green Impact Zone which, as The Kansas City Star has reported, did not produce nearly as many jobs as supporters had hoped. But about $250 billion went to state and local governments, which used the payments largely to stabilize budgets and avoid layoffs of public employees while keeping existing tax structures.
Whether the 2009-2010 stimulus created “more debt” is a matter of accounting. The government ran a deficit in fiscal year 2010 of $1.2 trillion, a shortfall that could be blamed on the two-year stimulus or any other part of the federal budget, including defense spending, discretionary spending, or entitlement programs.
Ryan also claimed the stimulus was the biggest expenditure in American history. In inflation-adjusted dollars, other spending — particularly defense and entitlement spending — is much higher, especially if the stimulus tax cuts are not counted.
RYAN: “The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it...A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare.”
ANALYSIS: Ryan and other Republicans are critical of the Affordable Care Act’s cuts to Medicare Advantage, reductions in costs estimated to save roughly $500 billion over the first 10 years of the ACA. Democrats said the cuts will only impact health care providers and insurance companies, while Republicans maintain they will reduce options and access to care for the elderly.
But Ryan’s own budget proposal offers similar savings, now estimated at more than $700 billion over the next 10 years. The Ryan blueprint would allow people over 55 to maintain their public Medicare option, but proposes a gradual transition for some recipients to taxpayer-supported assistance to buy private insurance.
In either case, government spending on health care for seniors would be reduced. The Obama administration uses the savings primarily to provide health care for the non-elderly poor, while Republicans use it for other government purposes or for deficit reduction.
RYAN: “A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at (the) 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.’ Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.”
ANALYSIS: The General Motors assembly plant in Janesville, Wis., closed in December 2008. Barack Obama became president in January 2009. The plant remains closed.
Ryan voted for federal financial support for GM, and he voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which the Obama administration used in part to provide funding for GM and Chrysler.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney opposed the makeup of the auto industry rescue package, arguing instead for a “structured bankruptcy” for stressed automakers.
RYAN: “We will keep federal spending at 20 percent of GDP, or less.”
ANALYSIS: Even if spending can be kept at that level — difficult, given Mitt Romney’s promise to increase military spending — large federal budget deficits would likely continue, leading to a higher national debt.
That’s because federal revenues are roughly 16 percent of GDP, the lowest level in decades. High unemployment, lower tax rates, and payroll tax reductions have contributed to the problems with revenue collection.
RYAN: “A bipartisan debt commission...came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way and then did exactly nothing.”
ANALYSIS: Ryan was a member of the Simpson-Bowles commission but voted against its final “urgent” report, claiming it did not address health care spending — while contemplating tax increases he opposed.
RYAN: “It began with a perfect AAA credit rating for the United States. It ends with a downgraded America.”
ANALYSIS: One credit agency did downgrade the nation’s credit rating last year, following the impasse on raising the debt ceiling. Ryan eventually voted for the debt ceiling compromise called the Budget Control Act.