I just finished watching Paul Ryan’s convention speech and I was dumbstruck by this supposed policy wonk’s complete and obvious ability to craft a speech that was so at variance to the facts and then expect the voters to take him seriously. Let’s take a look at some of what Ryan claimed.
Ryan talks about how Barack Obama has been in office for four years and even though he inherited a jobs crisis and a housing crisis he’s been unable to correct these problems. Ryan accuses President Obama of failing to focus on job creation in particular yet he never stopped to acknowledge the fact that at the depths of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression the Republican leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said that the single most important goal of the G.O.P. was “to make Barack Obama a one term president.” Looking back at the past three years I don’t recall any great effort on the part of the Republican Party to create jobs other than to continue to advocate for more tax cuts for the rich, the supposed “job creators”, who being the beneficiaries of the most liberal tax treatment since Ronald Reagan, don’t seem to have created all that many jobs anyway. And who were McConnell’s allies in this endeavor, the House Republicans, Paul Ryan, foremost among them. Thus at a time when the vast majority of Americans were suffering through the Great Recession the leaders of this country’s conservative movement put partisan politics above the common good and now we’re being asked to return these same people to power. What, pray tell, would lead anyone to believe that these same leaders, who put the American people on hold while they pursued partisan politics, will now address the needs of the rank and file American via a renewed attempt at trickle down economics?
With regard to fiscal matters, Ryan lectured the audience on the great damage done to the country by the Obama Administration saying that the president had run up an additional $5 Trillion dollars in debt since taking office. Odd but Ryan failed to address the fact that it was his party under George W. Bush that took us from surplus to deficit by starting two unfunded wars, cutting taxes for those who didn’t need one and the increased costs of Medicare resulting from a new prescription drug plan that was never adequately paid for. The great irony of Ryan’s whole diatribe is that he himself never stood against any of the aforementioned when they were up for a vote during the Bush administration. He railed against the auto bailout yet he voted for it. He spoke of a General Motors factory in Janesville that closed after candidate Obama promised that the plant would remain open and did so by ignoring the fact that that plant closed in December of 2008, before Obama even took office. He derided Obama for his efforts to fight the Great Recession yet Ryan himself voted in favor of the Wall Street TARP bailout and gladly accepted stimulus funds for his home district. He accuses Obama of walking away from the Simpson-Bowles debt reduction commission yet he himself voted against it. Oh and just one more thing, he was for earmarks before it became fashionable to be against them as his track record of procuring federal monies for his home district shows.
Ryan raised the old “Socialist” boogeyman when he spoke about “central planning” but then he went on to say that he and Romney would put the government “back on the side of those who create jobs.” Pardon me but the Republicans have been carrying on for the past four years that the government should get out of the way of the “job creators” and not “pick winners and losers.” And as was to be expected, Ryan again raised the misconception that Barack Obama doesn’t believe that people build their own businesses. Of course Obama never said anything to that effect, what he did say was that private businesses benefit from public spending on infrastructure and education and to that there is no argument as the history of this country shows. Since the birth of the American Republic public spending on infrastructure improvement has gone hand in hand with economic progress. Funny that a guy who’s supposed to be so well grounded in economic theory and history would miss an obvious fact like that one. Ryan reiterated the fable that Obama believes that we can grow the economy via entitlements, again a claim that can’t be substantiated in reality.
In speaking of his running mate’s record of public service Ryan alludes to Mitt Romney’s record as Governor of Massachusetts while ignoring the fact that the state ranked 47th in job creation, that Romney governed as a moderate, that he crafted a healthcare plan that is the template of Obamacare, individual mandate and all, and, he ignored Romney’s flip flop on abortion. Ryan praises Romney’s turnaround of the 2002 Olympics while ignoring the fact that Romney received between $400 to $600 million dollars directly from the federal government and approximately $1.1 billion dollars of indirect funding for transportation infrastructure improvements.
Paul Ryan would end his speech with an appeal to the American people to put partisanship aside and: “Let’s come together for the sake of our country.” Is he really serious in thinking that after his own party said that its goal was “to make Barack Obama a one term president” that his opponents will now, as if by magic, put the vitriol and the divisiveness of the past four years behind them and follow him, a guy who on the occasion of the most important speech in his political life would produce a soliloquy that only a politically ignorant listener could love.
Steven J. Gulitti