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CNN Refuses to Call Ryan Blaming Obama for GM Plant Closing A Lie

Last updated on February 8th, 2013 at 06:08 pm

Is the Republican VP pick/policy wonk be fibbing? CNN wants to know.

In a speech in Canton, Ohio on Thursday, Ryan blamed Obama’s energy policies for the closure of the GM plant in his hometown, but the plant closure was announced in June of 2008. The last car rolled off the Janesville line on December 23, 2008. Obviously, President Obama was then a Senator, and not the President.

All hail the Republican policy wonk who has only passed two bills in his entire career, still hasn’t run the numbers for his budget and doesn’t remember what year the GM Plant in his district closed!

CNN wants to know if Ryan is “fibbing” about the GM Plant closure. Of course, it’s not a “fib”; a fib is defined as “an insignificant or childish lie.” On the contrary, Ryan’s GM closure blame is a blatant and rather significant lie for someone running for Vice President.

Check out how CNN introduced a story about Paul Ryan’s lie about Obama closing the GM plant in his district:

CNN ANCHOR RANDI KAYE: Is Paul Ryan fibbing on the campaign trail? Find out what he’s blaming the President for and whether he is right in doing so.


KAYE: To politics now and a blame game that traces its roots back to Paul Ryan’s home state of Wisconsin. Ryan says this General Motors plant in Janesville, Wisconsin part of his congressional district is evidence of what he calls quote, “One more broken promise by President Obama” saying “The auto bailout which Ryan voted for failed to keep the plant open.”


BRENDAN KEEFE, REPORTER, WCPO: Unlike Mitt Romney, you supported the auto bailout, do you think the Obama bailout of the auto industry was a good idea sitting here today?

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It didn’t not help Janesville they shut our plant down. It didn’t help Kenosha, I represent there, shut down the Chrysler plant.


KAYE: That plant however actually closed during the Bush administration and reports show that Ryan made several attempts to keep the plant open visiting the GM headquarters and writing op-eds to local papers but his efforts failed.

So, that would be a NO, Ryan is not correct. For such a huge policy wonk, you would expect less “fibbing” because we were promised great and “serious” discussions via the “accomplished” Ryan, but instead we’re getting a barrage of lies in the first week of his roll out.

It’s not as if Ryan can’t remember the year the GM plant closed in Janesville, Wisconsin under George W Bush, because he was busy writing pleas to save it to the Bush administration and in his home state paper.

Ironically, when it closed, Bush hailed it as “trimming the fat”, something Ryan should have been all for, given his infamy for alleged budget hawk status. But we all know that “cutting” is for the other guy when it comes to the most partisan Republicans. Ryan said that as GM went, so went Janesville (Randian selfishness clearly takes precedence over real budget hawkishness). Ryan voted for the auto bailout put forth under Bush, provided the money didn’t come from money that was marked for big banks. It died in the Senate.

It’s odd, then, that his running mate so opposed the exact same sentiment when it went down in Detroit. Romney’s infamous “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” editorial is an example of how quickly Romney left behind the very industry responsible for his father’s wealth. His father, of course, also dealt with remaking the auto company he helmed, but he did it by lowering CEO wages as well as workers wages. George Romney was not a tool for the 1%. He was a good man, someone who had lived through poverty and survived via government assistance. Later he went on to become a wealthy man, but he never forgot where from whence he came.

After the Janesville plant closed, Ryan bragged about the millions in federal money he got for the workers. Now, that all seems rather compassionate for Ryan’s district, if not for the rest of the country. But it makes you wonder, why is it okay to spend pork to save his district and not others? Why is his district immune from his free market ideology, and if that ideology is serious and works, why wouldn’t he apply it at home, where he has the most control?

Where, exactly, is the “accomplishment” the media keeps nattering on about? You’d think accomplishments would include passing a bill other than renaming the post office and taxes on arrows. You’d think it might include seeing his policies enacted successfully in his district or a budget he would take full ownership of today. Yet Ryan’s biggest accomplishment to date is publicly touting fiscal policies he doesn’t stand by when it comes to his district. Well, that and being an accomplished runner from his own policies.

Then we come to the gas prices baloney. Gas prices are not under a President’s control, so while this is used by both parties in election season, the truth is that we can’t blame George W. Bush for the closure of the Janesville plant in December of 2008. Therefore, it’s ludicrous of Ryan to suggest we can blame someone who was not even elected yet in the summer of 2008, when the plant closure was announced.

Why isn’t Ryan discussing how his policy of tax cuts leading to prosperity is working in Janesville, you ask? I mean, heck, if he’s here to have a serious discussion, this would be the line of attack. But of course he can’t do that because in spite of Republicans controlling the state legislature in Wisconsin for the last two years and a Republican governor who enacted Ryan type policies to their extreme, Janesville is not flourishing.

Janesville needs money for job training, but Ryan doesn’t believe in job training. He insists, as do Walker and the Fitzgerald brothers running the state legislature, that tax cuts for big corporations will get the job done.

And this is why Ryan is blaming Obama for something that happened under Bush. Because he can’t afford to have a real policy debate about his stewarding of Janesville. Yes, Ryan is not solely responsible for Janesville; the city manager and others have an impact, but to the degree that his policies are enacted there, it’s curious that he won’t have a real discussion about what he thought would work and how it worked (i.e., a policy discussion).

CBS reported on Janesville, “This area’s unemployment rate spiked to 12 percent in the immediate aftermath of the local plant’s closure that April, and it remains just under 10 percent — higher than Wisconsin and the nation as a whole.”

Small businesses shuttered and laid people off due to lack of demand. If the people don’t have jobs, they don’t have money to put back into the economy.

How come tax cuts for the rich haven’t brought jobs to Janesville? Where are the corporations running to create jobs as they do the happy dance over huge tax giveaways, paid for on the back of social safety net programs that supposedly we wouldn’t need because of the job creators happy dance?

Well, they are allegedly coming in 2016 when a medical tech company moves into Janesville to take advantage of the tax breaks (I’ve never been a fan of this localized tax break chasing, and no free markerter has ever been able to explain to me why this is okay when it handicaps the entire free market premise of competition being the harbinger of economic success). Of course, the workers have to be trained to work for this kind of company, and thanks to Democratic input, some training is going on, but many say it’s not enough.

Paul Ryan, the GOP’s height of intellectualism, can’t seem to make an argument for his beliefs without lying about Obama. You’d think if he was as brave and wonderful as the Republicans say he is, he’d have something he would want to tell the voters about himself and his real plans. Something consistent and true. Something of which he is proud and can point to his policies in action, working.

Instead he’s lying about his Medicare plan, blaming Obama for what he wants to do to Medicare, lying about taking stimulus money, lying about his belief in stimulus money (he was for it under Bush, etc), leaving millions off of his disclosure forms until he was vetted by the Romney team, and blaming Obama for the closing of a GM plant in his district under George W Bush.

Obama is the person responsible for saving the auto industry in Detroit, much to the angst of the Republicans who wanted the auto industry alone to pay for the sins of the too big to fail banks and Wall Streeters. I have to ask why Ryan has to lie so much about his policies? Is this really the height of intellectualism we were promised?

A serious debate about ideology should not be buttressed on outright lies. It’s one thing to debate the ramifications of policies and assign blame for them, it’s another to blame the other side for something that you know happened under your own party’s watch.

So the answer to CNN’s question of whether or not Ryan is “fibbing” is no, he’s not fibbing, he is lying. This is hardly an insignificant matter, though it is very childish of Ryan. If Ryan has a real policy to tout, then he wouldn’t need to lie. CNN is asking the wrong question. It’s not “is he fibbing”, it’s why is he “fibbing”. It happened under George W Bush, in 2008. It’s not as if this fact is up for debate.

Ryan is lying at a pretty rapid clip, running away from his own record and ducking from his clear hypocrisies. If he is really a policy wonk, why is he lying? Why not defend his ideas with even a hat tip to reality, instead of using distortions and outright lies as a crutch to see him through difficult questions?

Image: CBS News, AP

Sarah Jones

Listen to Sarah on the PoliticusUSA Pod on The Daily newsletter podcast here. Sarah has been credentialed to cover President Barack Obama, then VP Joe Biden, 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, and exclusively interviewed Speaker Nancy Pelosi multiple times and exclusively covered her first home appearance after the first impeachment of then President Donald Trump. Sarah is two-time Telly award winning video producer and a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Connect with Sarah on Post,  Mastodon @PoliticusSarah@Journa.Host, & Twitter.

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