In a speech that was described as “long on style and short on facts”, the Republican Party vice-presidential nominee and Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan laid out his and presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s vision for the U.S. — one that contrasted sharply with incumbent Barack Obama, they claimed.
Mr. Ryan’s statements at the ongoing Republican National Convention here — suggesting that Mr. Obama was responsible for a General Motors plant closure in Wisconsin — came under the spotlight of fact-checkers in particular; as did some of his assertions about Mr. Obama’s plan for “raiding” Medicare, the low-cost healthcare system for seniors.
In his speech Mr. Ryan, widely considered a fiscal hawk, said that Mr. Obama had misled people in Mr. Ryan’s hometown of Janesville about the potential to save 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.”
In reality, the GM plant ceased production in December 2008, well ahead of Mr. Obama entering the White House and months ahead of the auto industry bailout that ultimately saved GM and Chrysler.
On the broader auto bailout, Mr. Ryan voted strongly in support of it under former President George W. Bush. He was also consistently opposed to the version of the plan mooted by Mr. Obama, the plan “that was widely credited with revitalizing both GM and Chrysler.”
Similarly Mr. Ryan lashed out at the Obama administration saying “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, funnelled out of Medicare by President Obama.”
As the Associated Press pointed out, Mr. Ryan’s claim “ignores the fact that [Mr.] 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.”
Further, Mr. Ryan’s plan to reconstitute Medicare using his controversial “voucher” scheme holds out the distinct likelihood of seniors being squeezed even more and exposing the elderly to potentially unaffordable out-of-pocket costs.
The other major speaker on the penultimate day of this rambunctious convention was former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who was also in office during the last Bush administration. While her speech appeared to receive an even stronger roar of applause from convention delegates than Ryan’s subsequent remarks, some questioned her foray into a critique of the Obama White House’s foreign policy.
Even though Ms. Rice is widely considered one of the primary forces behind the Bush administration’s war in Iraq — a war based on the ultimately unproven suggestion that weapons of mass destruction were being held there by Saddam Hussein — and an occupation that generated a catastrophic toll on human life, she tore into Mr. Obama’s foreign policy record.
“Everyone asks, where does America stand?” she said, adding, that when “friends or foes alike don’t know the answer to that question, unambiguously and clearly, the world is likely to be a more dangerous and chaotic place … We cannot be reluctant to lead, and you cannot lead from behind.”