Paul Ryan’s Myth-Filled Debate Performance
As with his speech at the Republican convention and daily performances on the campaign trail, Paul Ryan had a strained relationship with the truth at last night’s vice presidential debate.
Here’s a roundup of the 24 myths Ryan told during the 40 minutes he spoke at last night’s debate, courtesy of ThinkProgress’ Igor Volsky:
1) “It took the president two weeks to acknowledge that [the Libya attack] was a terrorist attack.” Obama used the word “terrorism” to describe the killing of Americans the very next day at the Rose Garden. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” Obama said in a Rose Garden statement on September 12.
2) “The administration was blocking us every step of the way. Only because we had strong bipartisan support for these tough [Iran] sanctions were we able to overrule their objections and put them in spite of the administration.” Even the Israeli President has effusively praised President Obama’s leadership on getting American and international sanctions on Iran, which have significantly slowed Iran’s progress.
3) “Medicare and Social Security are going bankrupt. These are indisputable facts.” [T]he possibility of Medicare going bankrupt is — and historically has been — greatly exaggerated. In fact, if no changes are made, Medicare would still be able to meet 88 percent of its obligations in 2085. Social Security is fully funded for another two decades and could pay 75 percent of its benefits thereafter. There is also an easy way to ensure the program’s long-term solvency without large changes or cuts to benefits.
4) “The vice president was in charge of overseeing this. $90 billion in green pork to campaign contributors and special interest groups.” Multiple reviews, including an independent review of all Department Of Energy loan programs by Herb Allison –- finance chair for McCain for President 2008 –- have found no “pork” in the stimulus’ funding of green projects, concluding that the loans were not steered to friends or family, as Ryan claims.
5) “Was it a good idea to spend taxpayer dollars on electric cars in Finland, or on windmills in China?” As PolitiFact has pointed out, the money for electric cars in Finland did not come from the stimulus. Rather, it originated with the Energy Department’s Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing program, which predated the Obama administration. The claim about “windmills in China” is also inaccurate.
6) “When they see us putting – when they see us putting daylight between ourselves and our allies in Israel, that gives them encouragement.” The Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, told CNN, “President Obama is doing … more than anything that I can remember in the past [in regard to our security].”
7) “You see, if you reform these programs for my generation, people 54 and below, you can guarantee they don’t change for people in or near retirement.” Here is how the Romney/Ryan Medicare plan will affect current seniors: 1) by repealing Obamacare, the 16 million seniors receiving preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and are saving $3.9 billion on prescription drugs will see a cost increase, 2) “premium support” will increase premiums for existing beneficiaries as private insurers lure healthier seniors out of the traditional Medicare program, 3) Romney/Ryan would also lower Medicaid spending significantly beginning next year, shifting federal spending to states and beneficiaries, and increasing costs for the 9 million Medicare recipients who are dependent on Medicaid.
8) “Obamacare takes $716 billion from Medicare to spend on Obamacare.” Ryan is claiming that Obamacare siphons off $716 billion from Medicare, to the detriment of Medicare beneficiaries. In actuality, that money is saved primarily through reducing over-payments to insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, cutting waste fraud and abuse, and eliminating inefficiencies in the system. Ryan’s budget plan keeps those same cuts, but directs them toward tax cuts for the rich and deficit reduction.
9) “And then they put this new Obamacare board in charge of cutting Medicare each and every year in ways that will lead to denied care for current seniors.” The Board, or IPAB is tasked with making binding recommendations to Congress for lowering health care spending, should Medicare costs exceed a target growth rate. Congress can accept the savings proposal or implement its own ideas through a super majority. The panel’s plan will modify payments to providers but it cannot “include any recommendation to ration health care, raise revenues or Medicare beneficiary premiums…increase Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing (including deductibles, coinsurance, and co- payments), or otherwise restrict benefits or modify eligibility criteria” (Section 3403 of the ACA). Relying on health care experts rather than politicians to control health care costs has previously attracted bipartisan support and even Ryan himself proposed two IPAB-like structures in a 2009 health plan.
10) “7.4 million seniors are projected to lose their current Medicare Advantage coverage they have. That’s a $3,200 benefit cut.” Enrollment is actually projected to increase by 11 percent in Medicare Advantage (MA) in 2013. Since the Affordable Care Act was enacted in 2010, Medicare Advantage premiums have decreased an average of 10 percent and enrollment in these plans has increased 28 percent.
11) “This [Medicare premium support] plan that’s bipartisan. It’s a plan I put together with a prominent Democrat senator from Oregon.” Wyden not only voted against Ryan’s budget, he also called the idea that he supported it “nonsense.”
12) “Eight out of 10 businesses, they file their taxes as individuals, not as corporations.” Far less than half of the people affected by the expiration of the upper income tax cuts get any of their income at all from a small businesses. And those people could very well be receiving speaking fees or book royalties, which qualify as “small business income” but don’t have a direct impact on job creation. It’s actually hard to find a small business who think that they will be hurt if the marginal tax rate on income earned above $250,000 per year is increased.
13) “[Unemployment is rising] all around America.” In August, the unemployment rate dropped from a year before in 325 of 372 metro areas surveyed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
14) “The average tax rate on businesses in the industrialized world is 25 percent, and the president wants the top effective tax rate on successful small businesses to go above 40 percent.” The U.S. is raising historically low amounts of revenue from the corporate income tax, and it already has the second lowest effective corporate tax rate in the world. U.S. corporations are taxed less than their foreign rivals, and the U.S. effective corporate tax rate is low compared to other developed economies.
15) “He’ll keep saying this $5 trillion plan, I suppose. It’s been discredited by six other studies.”The studies Ryan cites actually further prove that Romney/Ryan would, in fact, have to raise taxes on the middle class if he were to keep his promise not to lose revenue with his tax rate reduction.
16) “You can – you can cut tax rates by 20 percent and still preserve these important preferences for middle-class taxpayer. It is mathematically possible. It’s been done before. It’s precisely what we’re proposing.” If Romney/Ryan hope to provide tax relief to the middle class, then their $5 trillion tax cut would add to the deficit. There are not enough deductions in the tax code that primarily benefit rich people to make his math work. As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.
17) “So they proposed a $478 billion cut to defense to begin with. Now we have another $500 billion cut to defense that’s lurking on the horizon. They insisted upon that cut being involved in the debt negotiations, and so we have a $1 trillion cut.” Ryan has frequently gotten in hot water for criticizing President Obama for the very same defense cuts that he voted for in 2011.
18) “If these cuts go through, our Navy will be the smallest – the smallest it has been since before World War I.” PolitiFact rated this claim as “Pants on Fire,” noting that “a wide range of experts told us it’s wrong to assume that a decline in the number of ships or aircraft automatically means a weaker military.”
19) “Look at what they’re doing through Obamacare with respect to assaulting the religious liberties of this country. They’re infringing upon our first freedom, the freedom of religion, by infringing on Catholic charities, Catholic churches, Catholic hospitals.” Religious institutions haven’t been forced to “violate their conscience” by paying for contraception. Houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt from offering birth control.
20) “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it. Try telling that to the 20 million people who are projected to lose their health insurance if Obamacare goes through or the 7-point million – 7.4 million seniors who are going to lose it.” The Affordable Care Act would actually expand health care coverage to 30 million Americans and all seniors will keep their guranteed Medicare benefits, despite Ryan’s fear mongering. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that very few people will have to enroll in new coverage.
21) “We should not have called Bashar Assad a reformer when he was turning his Russian-provided guns on his own people.” In March 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clintonnoted that “many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.” However, she did not endorse their view.
22) “When Barack Obama was elected, they had enough fissile material — nuclear material to make one bomb. Now they have enough for five.” This is misleading and unproven. Iran now has enough fissile material, but has not yet enriched to the necessary level for a weapon. The Institute for Science and International Security says “it would take Iran more than two months to produce that amount if it started with 20%-grade uranium, and ‘several months’ to make enough for a bomb using low-enriched uranium. That would give the world community enough time to detect the operation and organize a response, ISIS noted in June.”
23) “[Iran is] racing toward a nuclear weapon.” Israeli and American intelligence officials aren’t so sure.
24) “We don’t want to do is give our allies reason to trust us less [by announcing a withdrawal timeline for Afghanistan].” It’s unclear how our allies would trust us less since they too agreed to the timeline. As Biden pointed outed, “That’s a bizarre statement. .. Forty-nine of our allies — hear me — 49 of our allies signed on to this position.”