Live

Watch CBSN Live

Fact-checking 6 claims in Paul Ryan's convention speech

The Republican vice presidential candidate, U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, waves after speaking during the third day of the Republican National Convention, Aug. 29, 2012, in Tampa, Fla. Mark Wilson

Updated at 6:15 p.m. ET with more reporting on Ryan's remarks on the stimulus.

(CBS News) In his rousing speech Wednesday night, vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan delivered a harsh rebuke of President Obama's tenure in the White House, and pledged that a Romney-Ryan presidency would do better for Americans. But critics immediately went after Ryan for what they cast as a series of misleading statements. Here, CBS News looks into six of Ryan's most controversial claims.

The claim: Obama is responsible for the closing of the GM plant in Janesville

Ryan in his speech suggested that the General Motors plant in his hometown in Janesville, Wis., remains shuttered because President Obama failed to keep his promise to retool the the auto industry.

Here's what Ryan said:

"My home state voted for President Obama. When he talked about change, many people liked the sound of it, especially in Janesville, where we were about to lose a major factory.

A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. 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."

Ryan references a speech Mr. Obama delivered at the Janesville plant on Feb. 13, 2008. (The full transcript of the speech is here.)

Mr. Obama did say: "I believe that if our government is there to support you, and give you the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition, that this plant will be here for another hundred years. The question is not whether a clean energy economy is in our future, it's where it will thrive. I want it to thrive right here in the United States of America; right here in Wisconsin; and that's the future I'll fight for as your President."

As some fact checkers have noted, the plant closed before Mr. Obama took office.

The plant's last full shift was on Dec. 23, 2008, and the Associated Press documented the tear-filled day in detail. As some conservative sites have noted, the plant produced a limited number of vehicles up until mid-2009.

After it was reported in October 2008 that GM was speeding up the plant's closure, Mr. Obama said this in an October 11, 2008 campaign statement: "This news is also a reminder that Washington needs to finally live up to its promise to help our automakers compete in our global economy. As president, I will lead an effort to retool plants like the GM facility in Janesville so we can build the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow and create good-paying jobs in Wisconsin and all across America."

A General Motors spokesperson told CBS News today that the plant was idled in December 2008 because of a decline in demand for SUVs due to rising gas prices.

President George W. Bush first approved $17.4 billion in auto bailout loans on Dec. 19, 2008, but it was too late to save the Janesville plant. Mr. Obama extended the bailout after he took office, and some analysts have claimed more than 1 million jobs were saved by the bailout.

Asked if there was anything Mr. Obama could have done to reverse that decision when he took office in January 2009, the GM spokeswoman said, "from a business perspective, it was a done deal. I don't think I can add anymore."

Asked how the company feels about being mentioned in Ryan's speech, the spokeswoman said, "GM recognizes that we're going to be a political football this season. Would we have preferred not to be in there? Sure. But there's not much we can do about it."

Additional convention speeches:
Rand Paul: Obama is "uniquely unqualified" to lead
Rice: "An election of consequence"
Ann Romney: "You can trust Mitt"
Paul Ryan: "We will not duck the tough issues"

CBS News complete convention coverage

The claim: Obama stripped billions from Medicare, demanding sacrifice of seniors

Since tapping Ryan as his running mate, Romney has faced endless questions about his plan for Medicare: In his most recent budget plan, Ryan proposed a controversial overhaul that would transform the nation's entitlement system into a voucher program. Democrats immediately seized on the plan, which Obama argued would "end Medicare as we know it," but the Romney campaign responded with a swift counter-attack, accusing the administration of trying to "rob" Medicare of $716 billion in order to fund the Affordable Care Act.

Ryan echoed that refrain in his Tuesday night remarks:

"You see, even with all the hidden taxes to pay for the health care takeover, even with new taxes on nearly a million small businesses, the planners in Washington still didn't have enough money. They needed more. They needed hundreds of billions more. So, they just took it all away from Medicare. 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."

Later, he defended his and Romney's plan as "protecting" Medicare, while he accused the Obama administration of "raiding" it.

Did President Obama raid Medicare to pay for the Affordable Care Act? The Romney campaign points to a CBO report showing that if the health care law was repealed, spending for Medicare would increase by an estimated $716 billion from 2013-2022. The president's health care reform law is indeed paid for in part by reducing Medicare's expected rate of growth between now and 2022. According to data from the Kaiser Foundation, however, the reductions come primarily from cuts to Medicare Advantage plans, as well as in hospital reimbursements and in payments to other providers. The Obama administration casts them as savings that would streamline the system, reduce waste and fraud, reinforce the Medicare trust fund and extend its lifeline. It does not limit access to benefits for Medicare recipients, and actually offers new preventative care benefits, as well as increased prescription drug coverage. Republicans, however, argue it creates disincentives for hospitals and doctors to accept new Medicare patients.

Fact-checking the Romney-Ryan "60 Minutes" interview

In addition to the Democratic defense of the $716 billion in reductions, critics of the Romney-Ryan argument point out that that Ryan's 2012 budget would have included many of the same Medicare reductions as are outlined in the president's health care plan. The campaign has since said it would restore those reductions, but Romney has not outlined a specific plan for Medicare if elected, other than to affirm that he would implement a voucher system and extend the solvency of the program. The campaign has not relayed specifics on how he would do that, however, and the New York Times reports that the pledge to reimburse the $716 billion in reductions would alone reduce Medicare's solvency by eight years.

The claim: The president did "nothing" on debt

What Ryan said:

"He created a new bipartisan debt commission. They came back with an urgent report. He thanks them, sent them on their way, and then did exactly nothing."

Mr. Obama did, in fact, create a bipartisan debt commission -- and Ryan was one of the 18 people on the committee.

House and Senate leaders promised to hold votes on the committee's recommendations for budget savings if 14 of the commission's members agreed to the plan. Only 11 members, however, voted in favor of the plan. Ryan was one of the seven who voted against the final report, which would have theoretically cut $4 trillion from the federal budget over a decade.

Some staunch conservatives like Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., supported the plan, but Ryan told reporters he couldn't back it because it made the problems surrounding health care spending "dramatically worse."

"Obviously, I'm not going to vote for it," he said, arguing that the plan "not only didn't address the elephant in the room, health care, it made it fatter."

While Mr. Obama didn't get the commission report passed, it's not true he did "nothing" to address the debt. Like the Republicans, the president has a plan for deficit reduction.

The claim: Obama believes government, not people, deserve credit for business success

In his remarks, Ryan reiterated a theme that's been a major GOP talking point all week: "After all that work, and in a bad economy, it sure doesn't help to hear from their president that government gets the credit. What they deserve to hear is the truth: Yes, you did build that," he said.

The comments refer to remarks President Obama made at a July 13 campaign stop, when he said, in part, "If you've got a business, you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen." Republicans immediately seized on the phrase as evidence that the Obama administration believes that the government - and not the hard work of individuals - is responsible for the success of small businesses.

Unpacking the "You didn't build that" debate

According to the transcript of Mr. Obama's original remarks, the president did suggest that successful people inevitably get some help along the way - be it from "great teachers," the founding fathers, or a government willing to invest in research, innovation, and growth.

Here are the president's remarks from that day:

"Look, if you've been successful, you didn't get there on your own. You didn't get there on your own. I'm always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there.

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you've got a business -- you didn't build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn't get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet."

Regardless of whether or not Mr. Obama's "you didn't build that" remarks referred to the actual roads and bridges, as the Obama campaign contends, or a business, the Republican argument that he is saying the government should get credit for business is a mischaracterization of his remarks.

The claim: Romney balanced the budget without raising taxes

In lauding Romney's leadership on Wednesday, Ryan also repeated the assertion that as governor of Massachusetts, Romney balanced the budget without raising taxes:

"He was the Republican governor of a state where almost nine in ten legislators are Democrats, and yet he balanced the budget without raising taxes. Unemployment went down, household incomes went up, and Massachusetts, under Mitt Romney, saw its credit rating upgraded.

FactCheck.org has pointed out repeatedly that while it's true Romney consistently balanced the Massachusetts budget without raising personal income taxes, he "did hike government fees by hundreds of millions of dollars, and he also closed loopholes on some corporate taxes." The Associated Press detailed some of those fees, reporting that Romney, along with Democratic state lawmakers "raised hundreds of millions of dollars for cash-strapped state coffers by approving new and higher fees on everything from marriage licenses to real estate transactions to gun licenses." These fees weren't characterized as taxes, so the Ryan claim is technically accurate, but many argue that the fees he raised in place of taxes amount to more or less the same thing.

In the same sentence, Ryan claimed that "unemployment went down, household incomes went up, and Massachusetts, under Mitt Romney, saw its credit rating upgraded."

According to Bureau of Labor Statistics and FactCheck.org, unemployment was reduced under Romney from 5.6 percent to 4.6 percent. In the context of the national economic climate, however, the same data shows that the Massachusetts unemployment rate was slightly lower than the national rate when Romney took office and was roughly the same as the national rate when he left office.

The claim: Voters only received debt from the stimulus

Ryan suggests that voters got nothing but debt from the stimulus. However, they also got tax cuts.

What Ryan said:

The first troubling sign came with the stimulus. President Obama's first and best shot at fixing the economy. At a time when he got everything he wanted under one party rule. It cost $831 billion. The largest one-time expenditure ever by our federal government.

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 anachronism at their worst. You -- you the American people of this country were cut out of the deal. What did taxpayers get out of the Obama stimulus? More debt. That money wasn't just spent and wasted, it was borrowed, spent and wasted.

The 2009 stimulus, or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, will ultimately cost about $833 billion from 2009 through 2019, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's latest estimate.

The latest CBO report explains the ongoing economic benefits of the package, concluding the legislation will raise real GDP in 2012 by between 0.1 percent and 0.8 percent and will increase the number of people employed in 2012 by between 0.2 million and 1.1 million.

The failed energy company Solyndra did receive a $535 million stimulus loan, but a large chunk of the package gave individuals tax breaks. The nonpartisan Tax Foundation lays out the eight stimulus provisions that affected the individual income tax, including the Making Work Pay tax credit and the expansion of the First-Time Homebuyer credit.

While there have been at least 5 examples of stimulus recipients going bankrupt, CBS News has found only one example so far of stimulus money going to a company that was supported by an Obama donor that could possibly be characterized as "political patronage" and that company was Solyndra. To date, Republican sources have not provided CBS News with any other specific examples of political patronage and stimulus grants.

It should also be noted that Ryan this month initially denied requesting stimulus funds for Wisconsin businesses but later admitted his office did request the funds.

Caroline Horn and Laura Strickler contributed to this report.

View CBS News In