Wisconsin Congressman Paul Ryan took the stage in Tampa last night and delivered a well-crafted, and forcefully delivered speech, accepting the Republican Nomination for Vice President. Ryan, 42, is a six-term Congressman with no executive experience and having authored only two pieces of legislation (one naming a post office) thrust himself into the electoral spotlight before a wildly enthusiastic convention crowd. He proceeded to launch into a lengthy critique of the Obama Presidency that was laden with distortions and more than a few outright lies. Among them:
- Ryan cited the Obama $831 billion stimulus and largely dismissed it as “wasted money” he alluded to spending as being something President Obama “is pretty experienced at”….calling it, “not just wasted; it was borrowed, spent and wasted.” The only specific example of waste, however, was a reference to the Solyndra bankruptcy, after a government loan of $500 million (begun under Pres. Bush) to the solar panel maker that eventually folded, caused primarily by unfavorable pricing competition from China. That loss of, course, was but a tiny fraction of the $831 billion stimulus bill, which Ryan voted for! Ryan was caught lying recently about never having sought stimulus funds, when in fact he lobbied the federal government for projects in his own district and then, when caught, tried to shift blame to his staff.
- His most glaring lie hit upon what he termed a “broken promise” made by Obama to keep a GM auto plant open in Janesville, Wisconsin in 2008,…when in fact, the plant closed in December, 2008...a month before Obama took office!
- He accused President Obama of not adopting the recommendations of his own Debt Commission (Simpson-Bowles) when – in fact – Ryan himself walked away and repudiated the same recommendations!
- Further into his speech, he accused the president of doing nothing to create jobs to deal with the long-term high unemployment resulting from the economic meltdown under George W. Bush’s presidency. In fact, Ryan was one of the leaders of the Republican House of Representative that refused repeatedly to vote on the president’s 2011 American Jobs Act. Legislation that most independent analysts had projected would have created between 1.5 and 2 million jobs in construction/infrastructure projects, and in hiring first responders and teachers, the hardest hit state and local employees during the Bush Recession.
- Ryan then launched into an attack in support of the Republican crusade to repeal Obama Care (The Affordable Care Act), once again seizing on the $716 Billion in Medicare Obama cuts to providers – not to recipients, as Ryan alluded – in order to fund Obama Care. Naturally Ryan left out the fact that the money used to fund the A.C.A. are from savings that accrue from eliminating huge Medicare overpayments and executive bonuses to the insurance providers and fraud and abuse in the system, which Ryan’s own budget promises to restore,while not providing “wellness care” or closing the prescription “donut hole,” both accomplished for seniors under Obama Care! According to Ryan, “The greatest threat to Medicare is Obama Care, and we’re going to stop that.”
- He then blamed Obama as being responsible for the downgrading of the U.S. Credit Rating, even though it was stubborn Tea Party brinksmanship which brought America perilously close to defaulting on its foreign debt, over a protracted budget impasse last fall and right-wing efforts to de-fund parts of the Federal Budget like Planned Parenthood. Then, Ryan closed out his screed on Obama by blaming him for $5 trillion of the $16 trillion National Debt, neglecting to mention, of course, that the bulk of that portion of the debt was actually caused by the Bush Recession and necessary stimulus to prevent an even worse financial crash, the Bush Tax Cuts, which Obama was forced to carry over under threat of Republicans blocking extension of unemployment benefits, and the two unfunded Bush wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, all of which Ryan supported!
Ryan was more than a half-hour into his blustery speech before he even began to talk about what he and Mitt Romney would do for America. He extolled the virtues of Romney as a “good man” a good businessman and someone who saved the Olympics, failing to note the more than $1.3 billion dollars the Federal Government spent to bail out the 2002 scandal-ridden games in Utah, which Republican Senator John McCain himself had roundly criticized on the senate floor as being “federal porkbarrelling.” Of course, Ryan also failed to mention that Mitt Romney lobbied for that money from the federal government!
Congressman Ryan then promised that a Romney/Ryan administration would pursue “tax fairness and regulatory reform”…but gave absolutely no specifics. He said, “We have a plan to create 12 million jobs in four years,” and said their administration would reduce the Federal Budget to 20% of GDP “because that is enough.” Yet he failed to give any clue as to how those 12 million jobs would be created at a time when massive cuts to every government program (except the Republican ‘sacred cow’ of defense) would have to occur to meet their spending goals!
Not a whisper or a hint of what domestic programs would be eviscerated on the Romney/Ryan/Republican Congress ‘chopping block.’ He vowed, “We will not duck the tough issues,” yet he failed to offer any specifics on Republican policies or programs to turn around the American economy, as he and Romney would accomplish…or to reconcile it with his own draconian budget or the GOP Party Platform!
Closing out his red-meat, stump-style speech…he touched briefly on foreign affairs. Despite my worries that he is the true “Neo-conservative” of the Romney/Ryan team, he left the sabre-rattling to Arizona Senator, John McCain, who gave a fiery, frightening Mideast conflict-laden speech, earlier in the evening, followed by a strident but more nuanced foreign policy address by former Bush Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice. Ryan’s only statement of note regarding foreign policy was a declaration that, “The United States is the greatest force for peace and liberty that the world has ever known.”
He closed by making an oblique reference to “protecting the weak” as a throw-away line to the needs of the poor, through maintaining a social safety net and, to placate the religious right in the auditorium. He denounced any public reliance on government and invoking God, said, “Our rights come from nature and God and not from government,” to wild cheers in the hall.
To sum it all up, it was a powerful rhetorical speech, forcefully delivered, and, it eclipsed the bombastic Keynote Speech delivered the day before by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. It was designed to be vague on substance and to appeal to independent voters. And even to make the argument to 2008 Obama voters to defect to the Republicans in November. Only time will tell whether it achieved those goals. It did succeed in portraying Ryan as a competent politician, if not a competent vice president. As a long-time political observer, however, I think the Republicans would have been better served had Condoleezza Rice been their V.P. nominee. Her speech had more substance; more personal warmth, charm and much more class.
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