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Thursday, August 30, 2012

In Ryan Critique of Obama, Omissions Help Make the Case


In his speech accepting the Republican nomination for vice president at the Republican National Convention, Representative Paul D. Ryan criticized President Obama for seeking Medicare cuts that he once sought as well, and for failing to act on a deficit-reduction plan that he too opposed.

Mr. Ryan, whose own plan to reshape Medicare has proved unpopular with voters, criticized Mr. Obama for moving to cut $716 billion from the expected future growth of Medicare - cuts that Mr. Ryan himself once counted on in his budget, but that his running mate, Mitt Romney, says he would restore.

Mr. Ryan also criticized the president as failing to act on the recommendations of the bipartisan debt commission that Mr. Obama had created. “They came back with an urgent report,” he said in his speech Wednesday in Tampa, Fla. “He thanked them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing.”

That appeared to be a reference to the Simpson-Bowles commission - which Mr. Ryan served on, but whose plan he ultimately opposed, saying it would raise taxes and not cut enough from health programs.

And in an extended critique of the president's stimulus plan, Mr. Ryan said: “What did taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt.” He did not mention that a third of the stimulus was in the form of tax cuts.

On G.M. Plant Closing, a Question of Timing

At one point in the speech, Mr. Ryan seemed to fault President Obama for the shuttering of a General Motors plant in his hometown, Janesville, Wis., but the plant was slated for closing before Mr. Obama took office.

Mr. Ryan said in his speech that Mr. Obama had visited the plant in 2008 and told peop le that “I believe that if our government is there to support you, this plant will be here for another hundred years.”

“Well, as it turned out,” Mr. Ryan said, “that plant didn't last another year. It is locked up and empty to this day.”

It was February of 2008 when Mr. Obama held a campaign event at the plant - a day after General Motors had posted a $38 billion loss. He gave a speech on economic policy.

By that October - a month before the election - General Motors had already made plans to close the Janesville plant because of the steep falloff in the sale of sport utility vehicles.

An article on the plant in The New York Times that month said: “On Oct. 13, G.M. announced that its 90-year-old plant there, the company's oldest factory in the United States, would build its last S.U.V. just before the Christmas holidays.”

“Just a year ago, the Janesville plant was churning out 20,000 Suburbans, Yukons and Tahoes each month,” the article said. “As the assembly lines wind down, the plant is now producing less than 100 S.U.V.'s a day. Only 1,200 employees remain from a work force that once numbered 5,000, and the end is drawing near.”