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August 30, 2012 / needhamgrassroots

Ezra looks for Truths in Ryan’s Speech at RNC Convention

from WaPo’s Ezra Klein:

I sat down to read it again, this time with the explicit purpose of finding claims we could add to the “true” category.

And I did find one. He was right to say that the Obama administration has been unable to correct the housing crisis, though the force of that criticism is somewhat blunted by the fact that neither Ryan nor Mitt Romney have proposed an alternative housing policy.

But I also came up with two more “false” claims.

So I read the speech again. And I simply couldn’t find any other major claims or criticisms that were true.

I want to stop here and say that even the definition of “true” that we’re using is loose. “Legitimate” might be a better word. The search wasn’t for arguments that were ironclad. It was just for arguments — for claims about Obama’s record — that were based on a reasonable reading of the facts, and that weren’t missing obviously key context.

Ryan’s claims weren’t even arguably true.

  • You simply can’t say the president hasn’t released a deficit reduction plan. The plan is right here.
  • You simply can’t say the president broke his promise to keep your GM plant open. The decision to close the plant was made before he entered office — and, by the way, the guy at the top of your ticket opposed the auto bailout.
  • You simply can’t argue that the Affordable Care Act was a government takeover of the health-care system. My doctor still works for Kaiser Permanente, a private company that the government does not own.
  • You simply can’t say that Obama, who was willing to follow historical precedent and sign a clean debt ceiling increase, caused the S&P downgrade, when S&P clearly said it was due to congressional gridlock and even wrote that it was partly due to the GOP’s dogmatic position on taxes.

Oh, and here’s one we missed: “You would think that any president, whatever his party, would make job creation, and nothing else, his first order of economic business. But this president didn’t do that. Instead, we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care.” The stimulus — which was the administration’s major job creation package — came before health care. It was their first priority. That’s simply inarguable.

This has been a central challenge during this election. The Republican ticket, when it comes to talking about matters of policy and substance, has some real problems – problems that have nothing to do with whether you like their ideas.

  • Romney admits that his tax plan “can’t be scored” and then he rejects independent analyses showing that his numbers don’t add up.
  • He says — and Ryan echoes — that he’ll bring federal spending down to 20 percent of GDP but refuses to outline a path for how well get there.
  • He mounts a massive ad assault based on a completely discredited lie about the Obama administration’s welfare policy.
  • He releases white papers quoting economists who don’t agree with the Romney campaign’s interpretations of their research.

All this is true irrespective of your beliefs as to what is good and bad policy, or which ticket you prefer.

Quite simply, the Romney campaign isn’t adhering to the minimum standards required for a real policy conversation.

Even if you bend over backward to be generous to them — as the Tax Policy Center did when they granted the Romney campaign a slew of essentially impossible premises in order to evaluate their tax plan — you often find yourself forced into the same conclusion: This doesn’t add up, this doesn’t have enough details to be evaluated, or this isn’t true.

I don’t like that conclusion. It doesn’t look “fair” when you say that. We’ve been conditioned to want to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame, and the fact of the matter is, I would like to give both sides relatively equal praise and blame.

I’d personally feel better if our coverage didn’t look so lopsided. But first the campaigns have to be relatively equal. So far in this campaign, you can look fair, or you can be fair, but you can’t be both.

read more at link: http://wapo.st/N1NfAE

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