Reality Check: Misleading claims in Ryan RNC speech

Paul Ryan attacks Obama in speech at Republican National Convention
Reality Check: Misleading claims in Ryan RNC speech

In a speech designed to introduce himself to the American people, Republican vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan used a selective version of history to attack President Barack Obama.

In his speech, Ryan talked about the General Motors plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis.

“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 100 years.’ That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day,” Ryan said.

A WISC-TV analysis found this to be misleading.

Obama did say those words, with a few in between, at his visit to Janesville’s GM plant in February 2008.

Obama was making a case for re-tooling the plant to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles, saying that future would help GM workers.

At the time, there had been bad news about GM’s future, but there was no indication that a plant closure was imminent.

But Ryan got the timeline wrong in his speech. Production at the plant ramped down drastically in December 2008, after Obama was elected but before he was president and before the auto bailout was passed under Obama in January 2009.

The plant also didn’t officially close until April 2009, more than a year after Obama spoke there.

“And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly,” Ryan said in his speech. “You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more, so they just took it all away from Medicare.”

WISC-TV found this claim is also misleading.

It’s true that $716 billion comes out of the Medicare program under Obama’s change — but not at the expense of seniors, as Ryan claims.

The lower costs for Medicare come from reduced reimbursements that go to hospitals and insurance companies.

“Obamacare, as much as anything else, explains why a presidency that began with such anticipation now comes to such a disappointing close. It began with a perfect triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America,” Ryan said.

WISC-TV found this needs clarification. While one credit agency downgraded the U.S. rating, it can’t all be pinned on the president.

Standard & Poor’s cited “political brinksmanship” in the debate over raising the debt ceiling by politicians of all parties. Standard & Poor’s said the debt ceiling compromise, which Ryan voted for, wasn’t good enough to prevent a downgrade.