Truth, put your boots on! The WaPo "fact-checkers", led by Ezra Klein, Dylan Matthews and Glenn Kesler, with Usain Bolt handling the anchor leg, are racing to create a fog bank around Paul Ryan's speech. [MORE: James Downie of the WaPo joins in.]
Let's cut to Dylan Mathews, posting at Ezra Klein's blog:
A GM plant in Ryan’s district shut down on Obama’s watch – From Ryan’s speech:
My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.
A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: “I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.” That’s what he said in 2008.
Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.
The plant shut down in June 2008, when George W. Bush is president. Ryan says it had not yet shut down Obama was elected, that Janesville was “about to” lose the factory at the time of the election. This is false, as Ryan knew in 2008 when he issued a statement bemoaning the plant’s closing.
Before we address the errors and omission in Matthews' analysis, let's note some trouble in Paradise - Glenn Kessler rates this as merely "misleading", and counters with different information:
In his acceptance speech, GOP Vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan appeared to suggest that President Obama was responsible for the closing of a GM plant in Ryan’s hometown of Janesville, Wisc.
That’s not true. The plant was closed in December, 2008, before Obama was sworn in. But look how Ryan came close to the line in his speech:
“Right there at that plant, candidate Obama said: ‘I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.’ That’s what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn’t last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.”
Obama gave his speech in February, 2008, and he did say those words. But Ryan’s phrasing, referring to the fact the plant did not last another year, certainly suggests it closed in 2009, when Obama was president.
Getting closer! Here in Realityville, the plant closing was announced in June 2008; the last SUVs rolled off the line in December 2008, while Bush was a lame duck, and the plant was finally idled (to stand-by status) in 2009:
Green was one of 1,200 employees let go when GM ended SUV production at the southern Wisconsin plant.
About 50 workers will remain at the Janesville plant to complete an order of small- to medium-duty trucks for Isuzu Motors Ltd. They’re scheduled to finish by May or June, and then the plant will close down for good, GM spokesman Christopher Lee said.
Lest you wonder, GM does not close a plant by way of aerial bombardment. The plant is mothballed and wishful thinkers contined to hope (as of Sept 2011, anyway) that GM would re-open it.
So, what did Ryan actually say? He claimed, and Kessler confirms [or see Captain Ed for more], that Obama promised in Feb 2008 that a sympathetic government could save the plant. As of this writing, that promise has not been kept, even though the Obama-led goverment became the majority owner of GM after Obama's ascension in January 2009.
Presumably the economics did not work out, and the recovery has surely been weaker than expected (which was Ryan's point.) Still, nothing Ryan said is false - Obama promised to save a plant that had been in trouble for years, had the power to do so after his election, yet didn't.
Dylan Matthews didn't even mange to get the timeline right. Glenn Kessler almost nailed the timing (the bulk of the jobs were gone by Dec 2008) but doesn't seem to grasp that closed plants can be re-opened. That is some fine job being done among the self-styled "reality-based" community.
MORE: James Downie of the WaPo checks in:
Yesterday, at an ABC News panel, Mitt Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers.” Wednesday’s speech from Paul Ryan certainly took that disdain for truth to heart, as his address was filled with falsehoods from start to finish.
Let’s start with the chronologically impossible. Ryan spoke about the GM plant in his hometown of Janesville:
Set aside the fact that Paul Ryan, in a fit of anti-Randianism, asked for government funds to save the plant. Set aside that he voted for the big-government auto bailout. Ryan also conveniently forgot to mention that GM announced the closure of the plant in early June 2008. In fact, Ryan and then-Wisconsin Sens. Russ Feingold (D) and Herb Kohl (D) sent a letter that month to GM CEO Rick Wagoner asking him to reconsider. This was not just before Barack Obama was inaugurated or even elected; it was the same day he won his own party’s nomination. There was no way Obama could have saved that auto plant without also discovering time travel.
Well, there is no way James Downie can do fact-checking until he discovers Google; the plant was not finally and fully closed until 2009 and could have been re-opened at least until September 2011.
STILL MORE: Jon Cohn of TNR leads with the Janesville plant as one of Ryan's five "misrepresentations" in "the most dishonest convention speech ever" (with a question mark.) Obviously Ryan struck some nerves.
BRING BACK THE JOURNOLIST: I deplore this lack of coordination among the partisan "fact-checkers" of the left. Let's go back to Dylan Matthews:
Wonkblog went about sorting the true from the misleading and the downright false.
Obama cut Medicare - Ryan blasted the cuts to Medicare reimbursements and Medicare advantage included in the Affordable Care Act. “They just took it all away from Medicare,” Ryan declared. “Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama.” That much is correct – the Affordable Care Act contained over $700 billion in cuts to Medicare reimbursement rates and Medicare advantage. The Obama administration insists the cuts will not hurt quality and are necessary to control costs, while the Romney-Ryan campaign disputes this, but the underlying claim is correct.
Well, sure, but then what do we make of Joan Walsh of Salon?
Paul Ryan gave a feisty anti-Obama speech that will have fact-checkers working for days. His most brazen lie accused President Obama of “raiding” Medicare by taking the exact same $716 billion that Ryan and the House GOP notoriously voted to slash. It was stunning.
I guess not everyone is stunned by the truth. Let's go to Paul Ryan's stunning bit on Medicare:
The president has declared that the debate over government-controlled health care is over. That will come as news to the millions of Americans who will elect Mitt Romney so we can repeal Obamacare.
And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly.
You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn’t have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama. An obligation we have to our parents and grandparents is being sacrificed, all to pay for a new entitlement we didn’t even ask for. The greatest threat to Medicare is Obamacare, and we’re going to stop it.
In Congress, when they take out the heavy books and wall charts about Medicare, my thoughts go back to a house on Garfield Street in Janesville. My wonderful grandma, Janet, had Alzheimer’s and moved in with Mom and me. Though she felt lost at times, we did all the little things that made her feel loved.
We had help from Medicare, and it was there, just like it’s there for my Mom today. Medicare is a promise, and we will honor it. A Romney-Ryan administration will protect and strengthen Medicare, for my Mom’s generation, for my generation, and for my kids and yours.
So our opponents can consider themselves on notice. In this election, on this issue, the usual posturing on the Left isn’t going to work. Mitt Romney and I know the difference between protecting a program, and raiding it. Ladies and gentlemen, our nation needs this debate. We want this debate. We will win this debate.
I think that taking money out of Medicare to reduce the projected growth in our national debt is different from taking money out of Medicare to fund yet another entitlement intended to buy votes for the Democrats and insure Obama's legacy. That, at least, is the stunning debate Paul Ryan is prepared to engage.