Paul Ryan: The definitive fact-check

A comprehensive guide to the candidate's lies or misrepresentations from his big RNC speech

Topics: Paul Ryan, Politics, 2012 Elections, Barack Obama, Republican convention, Republican Party, Conservatism, Tea Party,

Paul Ryan: The definitive fact-checkRepublican vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan waves after his address at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., on Wednesday. (AP/J. Scott Applewhite)

Paul Ryan delivered a blistering assessment of President Obama aided by a casual disregard for facts. Many, including Salon’s Joan Walsh and Steve Kornacki, have already pointed out the speech’s mendacity, but here is a comprehensive guide of every single lie, misrepresentation or omission from the speech, in the order they were delivered:

  • GM plant —  Ryan: blamed Obama for the closing of GM plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wis. Truth: One of the biggest whoppers of the night; the plant closed before Obama was even sworn into office. His position also contradicts the Republicans’ position of opposing President Obama’s auto rescue.
  • Stimulus — Ryan: “The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst. You, the working men and women of this country, were cut out of the deal.” Truth: The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the stimulus created 3.3 million jobs. Four out of five economists agree. Ryan himself wrote letters requesting stimulus money, then lied about it.
  • Medicare — Ryan: “Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.” Truth: As we’ve pointed out many times, Obamacare doesn’t raid Medicare and Ryan’s plan would do a lot more to ruin Medicare. One of the biggest lies of the campaign.
  • Obamacare — Ryan: “You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover…” Truth: Politifact called the “government takeover” of healthcare meme their “lie of the year” in 2010.


  • Jobs — Ryan: “We have a plan for a stronger middle class, with the goal of generating 12 million new jobs over the next four years.” Truth: An almost impossible goal.
  • Debt — Ryan: “The choice is whether to put hard limits on economic growth, or hard limits on the size of government, and we choose to limit government.” Truth: A false choice. There is no evidence suggesting that decreasing the size of government would grow the economy; in fact, it may hurt by killing government and contractor jobs. And much of the debt is due to Bush policies that Ryan voted for, like the Bush tax cuts and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Simpson-Bowles commission — Ryan: “He created a bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.” Truth: Ryan sat on that commission, and, as chairman of the Budget Committee was a leader on it. He voted against the commission’s recommendations, bringing all the other Republicans along with him.
  • Credit downgrade — Ryan: Obama “began with a perfect Triple-A credit rating for the United States; it ends with a downgraded America.” When Standard & Poors downgraded the country’s sovereign debt rating in 2011, they said that it was because Republican lawmakers had taken the nation’s debt ceiling hostage (something Ryan supported doing) and because “the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues” (another position Ryan maintains).
  • Poor — Ryan: “We have responsibilities, one to another — we do not each face the world alone. And the greatest of all responsibilities, is that of the strong to protect the weak.” Truth: About two-thirds of the cuts in Ryan’s budget proposal come from programs the benefit poor people, such as food stamps. Meanwhile, he calls for tax cuts for the wealthy.
Everyone lies. Ryan takes it to new levels.

UPDATE: Paul Ryan’s challenger, Democrat Rob Zerban, called Ryan a “liar” for his speech. “From lying about an auto plant closure that happened under George W. Bush to concealing the truth about his radical plot to kill Medicare, Ryan showed his true interest was not in solving real problems, but advancing his own career,” he said in a statement.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at aseitz-wald@salon.com, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

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