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Fact Checking the GOP Speakers Fact Checking the GOP Speakers

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Conventions 2012

Fact Checking the GOP Speakers

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Former Secretary of State Condelezza Rice speaks to the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida.(Ralf-Finn Hestoft)

(In Case You Missed It: Fact Checking Day One)

Day Two of the Republican convention focused heavily on national security, with former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Sen. John McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Many speakers, including vice presidential nominee Rep. Paul Ryan and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, also focused heavily on the economy and fiscal issues. Here is a look at some of the statements and how firmly they are grounded in fact:

 

Paul Ryan on Medicare:

Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin repeated his main criticism of President Obama’s health reform law from the campaign trail: that it cuts $716 billion from the federal health care program for the elderly.

“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.”

 

Obama’s health care law wrings $716 billion in savings over 10 years from Medicare, mainly by slowing the rate of growth in payments to hospitals and insurance companies. That money will be used to expand health insurance to an estimated 30 million people. The savings will pay to expand coverage to uninsured Americans, but Democrats say that hospitals and insurers will benefit by the fact that more patients will be covered by insurance.

Ryan said the cuts mean the Medicare obligation is “being sacrificed.” According to an annual report on Medicare’s financial health, that is false. Government officials found that the health reform law extended the program’s solvency through 2024, up from 2016.

Paul Ryan on closed General Motors plant:

Ryan spoke of a General Motors where some of his high school classmates worked. “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. And that’s how it is in so many towns today, where the recovery that was promised is nowhere in sight.”

 

The GM plant in Janesville closed in December 2008, while George W. Bush was president.

Paul Ryan on 'cronyism' and stimulus:

Ryan criticized Obama’s 2009 stimulus package, declaring it a waste of money and an example of “cronyism”: “It went to companies like Solyndra, with their gold-plated connections, subsidized jobs, and make-believe markets. The stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare, and cronyism at their worst.”

GOP nominee Mitt Romney has made similar statements about “crony capitalism”—a charge that The Washington Post awarded “one Pinocchio”—a “shading” or “selective telling” of the truth, according to the guide. 

The Post notes that the Energy Department’s decision to restructure Solyndra’s loans could be classified as crony capitalism because it “represents bureaucratic interference with the free market. Private investors probably would have been less likely to risk money on a company showing no signs of life if they weren’t promised protection ahead of taxpayers.” 

But, the analysis concludes, “Overall, the facts of the Solyndra matter represent a strong case for Romney’s claims of crony capitalism, but they don’t provide conclusive evidence.”

Still, Ryan’s decision to paint the stimulus broadly as cronyism is additionally misleading. The package included aid to states, money for infrastructure spending, tax cuts, and many other provisions.

John Thune on federal regulations:

Sen. John Thune of South Dakota said the Obama administration wrote too many federal regulations, rules that are making a “sluggish” economy and “weighing down our job creators.”

Thune took aim at health insurance premiums, which he said have increased nearly 19 percent for families since Obama took office. That figure is accurate. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the average family getting insurance from an employer paid $12,532 for that coverage in 2008. That figure increased to $14,809 in 2011.

While health insurance costs have increased during the Obama administration, Democrats’ health reform law is not to blame. The law’s most significant reforms on the insurance market don’t take effect until 2013 and 2014. Moreover, health insurance premiums have been steadily rising from before Obama took office. Since 2001, employee contributions to family premiums have increased 131 percent.

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