Fact-Checking Paul Ryan’s RNC Speech

by Avik Roy

A number of liberal bloggers were arguing on Twitter that Paul Ryan’s speech contained numerous lies. I’ve broken down the fiscal and health-care complaints. Here is the summary of the charges leveled by Dave Weigel, and the summary of my analyses. The full details are here. Notably, I leave the Janesville GM plant issue out of this discussion, for others to tackle.

Charge #1: Paul Ryan accused Obama of cutting Medicare by $716 billion, but Ryan’s own budget preserved those cuts.

My judgment: Ryan is correct. Ryan makes the appropriate distinction between improving Medicare’s solvency and cutting its spending to fund spending elsewhere.

Charge #2: Paul Ryan criticized Obama for ignoring the recommendations of the Simpson-Bowles deficit commission. But Ryan voted against those recommendations himself.

My judgment: Ryan is correct. Ryan’s credibility on deficit reduction is on the record, and has been endorsed by prominent Democrats. By contrast, Obama’s FY 2013 budget didn’t garner a single vote in Congress.

Charge #3: Paul Ryan blamed Obama for Standard & Poor’s downgrade of American government debt from AAA to AA+, but Paul Ryan is actually to blame because he resisted tax increases that would have closed the deficit.

My judgment: Ryan is correct that Obama has presided over this historic downgrade, but Republicans deserve a meaningful proportion of the blame for the fiscal situation that Obama inherited and then made worse.

Charge #4: Paul Ryan opposed the stimulus, but he lobbied for stimulus grants that went to his district.

My judgment: Ryan is correct in his criticisms of the Obama stimulus, but it is true that Ryan voted for wasteful spending measures in the 2000s. In the minds of many, including me, Ryan’s courage in taking on entitlement reform redeems those earlier failures. But others may disagree.

 — Avik Roy is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and the author of The Apothecary, the Forbes blog on health-care and entitlement reform. He is a member of Mitt Romney’s Health Care Policy Advisory Group. You can follow him on Twitter at @aviksaroy.

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