Paul Ryan promised ‘big things’ but failed to deliver in RNC speech

The VP nominee’s personal stories and the platitudes were well done, but the substance was a let down.


Watching Paul Ryan’s speech from inside the Tampa Bay Times Stadium, it was clearly a huge success with the party faithful. The crowd of delegates roared their approval and jumped to their feet energized by his delivery and his message. The convention hall was not quite as electrified as by Sarah Palin’s combative speech in 2008, but it was still buzzing.

The personal stories and the conservative platitudes were all well done. But the substance was a  let down. Sure, all political speeches contain some exaggeration and smoke and mirrors, and the Obama campaign and its allies have run some misleading ads in this election campaign. But this speech was a flat-out taunt to fact-checkers. For a guy who has assumed the role of the Republicans’ egghead policy wonk, promising to give bold solutions to tough problems and to make the campaign about “big things,” his speech was a disappointment.

One of the most egregious segments was about Medicare. Aware that one of the biggest vulnerabilities he brings to the ticket are his controversial proposals to transform Medicare for future retirees, Ryan played offense on the issues. Ryan accused Obama of “funnelling” $716 billion from Medicare“at the expense of the elderly” to pay for his health care reform. This is only partly true. Moreover, Ryan’s own budget – the Republican budget he proposed as chair of the House Budget Committee – proposes to keep the very same cuts that Obama has proposed – but rather than using the money to expand health care coverage, Ryan would use it to cover the budget gap caused in part by his proposed tax cuts.

Then there are Ryan’s own plans for Medicare, the government health care program for seniors. He said in his speech: “Medicare is a promise, and we will honour it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my Mom’s generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours.” He made this statement without mention of the fact that he has proposed turning it into a voucher-based (or “premium-support”) program for future retirees.

Then there was this line: “Obamacare comes to more than two thousand pages of rules, mandates, taxes, fees, and fines that have no place in a free country.” Funny, those same mandates and taxes were part of Romney’s mandatory health insurance reform back in Massachusetts in 2005.

Many of his biggest applause lines had to do with the urgent need to reduce federal government debt. But Ryan has yet to explain exactly how he would balance the budget while still offering the large tax cuts and military spending increases that he proposes.

The credibility of his speech also suffered when he blamed Obama for not preventing the closure of an auto plant that closed in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin – since the plant closed under Bush. Others have pointed to other inaccuracies, but you get the picture.

That said, Ryan had some memorable lines:

“College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”

Or this:

“It all started off with stirring speeches, Greek columns, the thrill of something new. Now all that’s left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at a moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind.”


His slogan, “Let’s get this done,” and constant declarations that “We can do this,” were rousing. If only he’d be more straightforward about what “this” is.

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Paul Ryan promised ‘big things’ but failed to deliver in RNC speech

  1. I watched part of Ryan’s speech. Couldn’t bring myself to watch all of it – it was grossly, transparently, political. He is going to have to do better than that or he’ll be little better than the jackass who is currently the VP. Condi Rice’s, however, was superb.

  2. What’s disappointing is that a Canadian publication is schilling itself out to support the leftists in Washington.
    The Obama campaign is disappointing: lies and smears only. How many times are they going to play the race card? Despicable.
    This reporter is obviously concerned about one thing: her place at the table amongst the Washington leftist elites. Truth? What is truth?

    Another reason this Canadian will never subscribe to Macleans mag.

      • As much as I agree with you regarding the speech. Other articles on faux news by said author are pretty sympathetic to democrats. I guess she’s supposed to be the “balanced” portion of their side show.

      • LOL! That’s Sally Kohn! A leftist activist blogger!! Anyway, today the smears on Ryan will continue. So far he “lies”, how long before his speech was racist? Extremist? Homophobic? etc..

        • Nice! When somebody tells you something you don’t want to hear, just jam your fingers in your ears.

          If you think the accusations of falsehood are themselves false, you shouldn’t have any trouble refuting them. I’ll wait right here…

          • ok wait right there…

  3. Luiza, the Janesville plant did not close until June May 2009.

    On Obama’s watch

    Furthermore, even after closing, it was on GM’s shortlist in June 2009 to be the plant chosen for GM’s future small cars, ultimately losing out to Orion Township, Michigan.

    When did the US Government assume control of GM? June 2009.

    What did Obama say in his 2008 speech, when speaking at the Janesville plant itself?

    Those are the steps we can take to ease the cost crisis facing working families. But we still need to make sure that families are working. We need to maintain our competitive edge in a global by ensuring that plants like this one stay open for another hundred years, and shuttered factories re-open as new industries that promise new jobs.

    So why didn’t Obama, after taking control of GM in June 2009, ensure that this happened?

    Paul Ryan was right on the money.

    When the fact checkers need fact checkers…I’m curious. When Maclean’s posts job openings for a fact checker, are research or comprehension skills included in the list of mandatory requirements?

    And if such an error would have potentially damaged Ryan’s credibility had it actually been an error, what does pointing to an incorrect fact check do to your credibility?

    • From the link in the piece above: “The plant was effectively shut down on Dec. 23, 2008, when GM ceased production of SUVs there and laid off 1,200 workers. (Several dozen workers stayed on another four months to finish an order of small- to medium-duty trucks for Isuzu Motors.)”

      From Wikipedia: “Assembly work continued at the Janesville Assembly until April 2009, completing the Janesville/Isuzu light truck contract and then an additional 40 to 50 “skilled trade employees” worked to decommission the plant.”

      A few dozen workers finishing a project in an otherwise shuttered plant. That’s a pretty thin justification for questioning Luiza’s intelligence.

      “So why didn’t Obama, after taking control of GM in June 2009, ensure that this happened?”

      I think things changed between Feb 2008 (when the speech was delivered) and June 2009. Something about an auto crisis… you may recall.

      • TJCook, this is Reality speaking. I thought I would seek you out, as you haven’t been in touch with me lately. I
        notice you spend a lot of time arguing on line. The fact that you and I
        have spent so much time apart really shows in your comments, and I am a
        little concerned. I think that you should understand the media that you
        are supporting so strongly. For the most part these people are employed
        in the business of propaganda, not in defending the truth.
        Furthermore,TJCook, it is my fear that you no longer are able to
        recognize a man of integrity when you see one. It makes me sad to think
        that you don’t understand that to the media the facts don’t matter, but
        only the creation of a certain amount of suspicion about a person.
        That’s their job, and that is what the above article is so obviously
        about: undermining a man of real integrity. If one defends against one
        claim, then another arises, and another. The facts are irrelevant, so long as the less discerning individual has doubts created in there mind.

        Please get in touch with me when yo can, TJCook. You need me more than you know.

        • Cute.

          Hey, Ryan is accused of making some very specific false statements in the article above. Beyond schoolboy taunts, do you think you can prove that Ryan wasn’t lying?

  4. Well I think this is too important a thing to not pay attention to.I think buying the right student health insurance takes time and is something too few people really think too much about.great blog.

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