There's a saying that the only second chance you get in life is the chance to make the same mistake twice. As he prepares to debate Joe Biden, Paul Ryan will almost certainly confirm that adage. After all, following his first big moment in the national spotlight, the GOP vice presidential nominee was pilloried for his Republican National Convention speech chock full of omissions, misrepresentations and outright lies. Thursday night in Kentucky, the self-proclaimed "numbers guy" will doubtless deny them.
Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney can't handle the truth. And the only way they can win is if you don't know it.
1. Economists Warn Romney-Ryan Plan Means Huge Job Losses
Like Mitt Romney, Rep. Ryan will claim that the GOP ticket will produce 12 million new jobs over the next four years. What Ryan won't mention is how they'll do that, or that forecasts this year from Moody's Analytics, Macroeconomic Advisers and the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office already projected that based on recent trends the U.S. economy will generate roughly 12 million jobs by 2016 anyway. But a Romney-Ryan ticket isn't planning to do nothing in office, but instead intends to implement draconian spending cuts that studies suggest could cost up to 600,000 jobs in 2013 and another 1.3 million in 2014.
It's no wonder a survey of hundreds of economists by The Economist found that "by a large margin they rate [Obama's] overall economic plan more highly than Mr. Romney's, credit him with a better grasp of economics, and think him more likely to appoint a good economic team."
2. Romney and Ryan Both Supported Social Security Privatization
Paul Ryan didn't merely call Social Security a "Ponzi scheme." In 2005, he authored legislation to privatize Social Security that was so extreme even the Bush administration labeled it "irresponsible." (Part of his original "Road Map for America's Future," Ryan quietly dropped privatization of the retirement program for 46 million seniors from his 2010 GOP budget.) Romney, too, repeatedly offered his support for diverting trillions from the Social Security Trust Fund into private accounts managed by Wall Street firms during the 2008 campaign ("that works") and in 2010 book, No Apology. But given the staggering unpopularity of Social Security privatization, Romney is quick to deny that it is his current position.
3. 98 Percent of Congressional Republicans Voted for Ryan's Plan to Ration Medicare
In the spring of 2011, 235 House Republicans and 40 GOP Senators voted for the Ryan budget's proposal to transform Medicare into an under-funded voucher program dramatically shifting the cost of health care onto America's seniors. Confronted with the inescapable conclusion that his proposal would inevitably lead to de fact rationing, Ryan protested:
"Rationing happens today!" The question is who will do it? The government? Or you, your doctor and your family?"
Ryan, of course, omitted the real culprits: private insurers. Which is why the 2012 version of the Ryan budget (similar to the Romney plan) maintaining the traditional "public option" as one choice for future Medicare beneficiaries now 55 and younger will nevertheless still lead to cherry-picking of healthier seniors and higher costs for everyone.
4. Ryan Budget Takes $716 Billion from Medicare to Give Tax Cuts to the Rich
Nevertheless, as he did at the RNC, Congressman Ryan will doubtless charge that $716 billion has been "funneled out of Medicare by President Obama." Ryan's baseless claim, deemed "flat-out wrong" by BusinessWeek and "repeatedly debunked" by the New York Times, tries to ignore that the Affordable Care Act extended the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 8 years and expanded seniors' prescription drug benefits and preventative care by slowing the growth of payments to private insurers and providers. (It is precisely these overpayments Mitt Romney wants to restore.)
But Ryan's fraud does not end there. His 2011 and 2012 budgets enjoying the near-total support of Capitol Hill Republicans take the same $716 billion and use it to pay for over $4 trillion in tax cuts. As with Mitt Romney's proposed tax cut scheme, the lion's share of the payday from the U.S. Treasury goes into the accounts of the wealthiest America.
5. Romney and Ryan Will Cut Benefits for Today's Seniors
Both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney take great pains to proclaim that "I don't want any change to Medicare for current seniors or for those that are nearing retirement." They are pained because the statement isn't true. Their call to repeal Obamacare would take away free preventative care now part of Medicare and reopen the "donut hole" in its prescription drug program. (That change alone saved N million seniors over Y billion last year.)
But the Republicans' attack on today's elderly doesn't end there. The Romney-Ryan ticket has proposed slashing Medicaid by a third over the next decade and turning over the reduced funds to the states in the form of block grants. Those steep reduction threaten the 6 million elderly recipients of Medicaid, a program will which pays for 33 percent of all nursing home care.
6. Romney-Ryan Plans Leaves 44 Million More Without Health Insurance
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan don't merely want to repeal the Affordable Care Act current estimated to enable insurance for 30 million more Americans by 2020. All told, ending the ACA and s giving states control of shriveled Medicaid funding would leave up to 44 million people without insurance. Earlier this month, the Commonwealth Fund estimated President Romney would preside over a staggering 72 million Americans without coverage.
7. GOP Ticket Adds Trillions More Than Obama in New Debt
Thursday night, Rep. Ryan will echo Mitt Romney's charge that President Obama has added $5 trillion to the national debt during his tenure. But Romney's running mate won't just omit mention that Ronald Reagan tripled the national debt and George W. Bush roughly doubled it again. Ryan will also fail to explain that the drivers of most of the debt under Obama--two wars, the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, and the Medicare prescription drug plan--are all bills he voted for. All told, the same Republicans leaders who held the debt ceiling hostage last summer voted to raise it seven times under President Bush.
Nevertheless, as the non-partisan Tax Policy Center and other analysts have detailed, Mitt Romney's tax plan would slash federal tax revenues by roughly $5 trillion over the next decade. With Romney's demand that core defense spending be at least 4 percent of GDP, new Pentagon spending will add another $2 trillion to the red ink. Even with the steep cuts to Medicaid and non-defense discretionary spending, Romney and Ryan can't come close to offsetting the new debt unless they close all or most of the $1 trillion plus in tax credits, loopholes and deductions central to their pledge to lower rates and "broaden the base." The result is not only more "immoral" debt for the next generation of Americans, but more than projected under President Obama's plan.
8. Romney and Ryan Won't Name a Single Loophole They'd Close
Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan could cauterize that hemorrhage of red ink if they could explain which of that trillion-plus dollars in tax expenditures they would stop. But Paul Ryan, who promised "We won't duck the tough issues," is just that.
Will the Romney-Ryan administration end the $63 billion Earned Income Tax Credit for working families that Ronald Reagan called "the best anti-poverty, the best pro-family, the best job creation measure to come out of Congress?" How about the $89 billion a year home mortgage tax deduction? Many of those breaks help explain the 47 percent of Americans who pay no federal income taxes, otherwise known as Mitt Romney's "victims" and Paul Ryan's "takers."
Neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan will say. Not, that is, until after the election. And not because, as Paul Ryan recently claimed, "It would take me too long to go through all the math." The two men who call each other "bold" and "courageous" are simply too chicken.
9. Ryan Supports GOP Platform's Ban on All Abortions
Despite his past support for it, Mitt Romney has declared his opposition to the Republican platform's so-called Human Life Amendment. But while Romney would allow for abortions in the cases of rape, incest or to protect the health of the mother, Paul Ryan would permit no exceptions--period.
Ryan co-sponsored a so-called "personhood" amendment defining a fertilized egg as a human being and sought to prohibit access to abortion for rape victims. And in a performance on the House floor reminiscent of John McCain's famous 2008 debate "air quotes" surrounding "the health of the mother," Paul Ryan protested:
"The health exception is a loophole wide enough to drive a Mack truck through it."
10. Ryan Voted for the Defense Sequestration He Attacks Obama for
In August 2011, Paul Ryan was among the House Republicans who voted for the debt ceiling compromise which would sequester $1.2 trillion in spending (half of it from the defense budget) if Congress did not otherwise trim the debt by that amount over the next decade. Of course, you'd never know that listening to him. In this exchange, Ryan's rewriting of recent history left Norah O'Donnell stunned:
O'DONNELL: Now you're criticizing the President for those same defense cuts you're voting for and called a victory...you voted for it!
RYAN: No, Norah. I voted for the Budget Control Act.
O'DONNELL: That included defense spending!
RYAN: Norah, you're mistaken.
No, Paul Ryan is mistaken. But if Americans vote for him and his running mate, the mistake will be all ours.