POLITICS

The five weakest liberal attacks on Paul Ryan’s speech

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Politics,Beltway Confidential,Conn Carroll

1. From The Washington Post‘s Dylan Matthews: “The decision to close the plant was made in June 2008, when George W. Bush was president. Ryan says that Janesville was “about to” lose the factory at the time of the election, and Obama failed to prevent this. This is false, as Ryan knew in 2008 when he issued a statement bemoaning the plant’s impending closing.”

Matthews is the one with false and misleading facts here. GM did announce in June 2008 that the plant would “cease production of medium-duty trucks by the end of 2009, and of the Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon in 2010.” Both those dates place planned cessation of production solidly in Obama’s term. Work on medium-duty trucks did continue through April 2009. Work on the the Tahoe, Suburban and Yukon did stop in December 2008. As did work in many GM plants. But other GM plants have reopened. The problem for Obama is that he promised on three separate occasion to “retool” the Janesville factory and keep it open. This never happened. Obama promised. Obama failed. End of story.

2. From The New Yorker‘s Ryan Lizza: “Ryan pilloried Obama’s stimulus bill. But as has by now been well documented, Ryan lobbied for stimulus money for his district.”

Voting against a program you believe is bad for the country overall, but then fighting tooth and nail for the spoils after it becomes law, is in no way contradictory or hypocritical. As former Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Tex., famously explained: “If we should vote next week on whether to begin producing cheese in a factory on the moon, I almost certainly would oppose it…On the other hand, if the government decided to institute the policy, it would be my objective to see that a Texas contractor builds this celestial cheese plant, that the milk comes from Texas cows, and that the Earth distribution center is located in Texas.”

3. From The New Republic‘s Jonathan Cohn: “Ryan attacked Obama for “raiding” Medicare. Again, Ryan has no standing whatsoever to make this attack, because his own budget called for taking the same amount of money from Medicare. Twice.”

Avik Roy responds: “It’s true that Ryan’s budgets in 2011 and 2012 preserved Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare. However, there is a huge difference between cutting Medicare by $716 billion to fund $1.9 trillion in new health spending, as Obamacare did, and cutting Medicare by $716 billion to shore up the solvency of the Medicare program itself, as the Ryan budget sought to do. Secondly, the Romney Medicare plan fully repeals Obamacare, including the $716 billion in Medicare cuts.”

4. From Salon‘s Joan Walsh: “He derided the president for walking away from the Simpson Bowles commission deficit-cutting recommendations when Ryan himself, a commission member, voted against those recommendations.”

Simpson-Bowles was not Ryan’s commission. It was Obama’s. And one of the ground rules Obama made when he created the commission was that Obamacare was off the table. Ryan has always consistently maintained that Obamacare is a fiscal fraud that, if left in tact, makes deficit reduction impossible. He has been proven right at every turn.

5. From Slate‘s David Weigel: “S&P’s rationale for downgrading the United States from AAA to AA+ “assumes that the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, due to expire by the end of 2012, remain in place.” This was “because the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues.” Ryan’s promised to keep those tax cuts for now, then try and flatten the code into two low rates, and we don’t know what the S&P Tiki Gods think of that.”

Weigel makes it seem like the S&P said the downgrade was due entirely to Republican refusal to raise taxes. That is false. Here is how S&P explained their decision: “The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics. More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.”

So the question is who is to blame for the weakening of “the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions.” Arguments can be made either way, but as Obama recently admitted, “I know, we were just talking about responsibility and as president of the United States, it’s pretty clear to me that I’m responsible for folks who are working in the federal government and you know, Harry Truman said the buck stops with you.”

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