Sally Kohn Fact Checks Paul Ryan – And Fails Miserably

Sometimes it would just be better for some people if they just chose to keep their mouths shut. Such a person is Sally Kohn, a lesbian leftist and “contributor” to Fox News. Sally is no stranger to these pages, we have chatted about Mustang Sally here.

So, given her pedigree as a thirtysomething product of government schools in the later 80’s and mid 90’s (the heady days of the Clinton Administration), a graduate of elite universities with degrees in “soft” science and the wonders of government intrusion (public administration) and a purveyor of an alternative lifestyle approved (some would say “promoted”) by the “progressive” social behavioral arbiters, it is clear that she ticks every box as a “progressive” authority on conservatism…and it is also a sure fire guarantee that she gets everything about conservative beliefs exactly wrong.

She takes it upon herself to “fact check” Paul Ryan’s speech and to no one’s surprise, finds it just chocked full of lies:

The good news is that the Romney-Ryan campaign has likely created dozens of new jobs among the legions of additional fact checkers that media outlets are rushing to hire to sift through the mountain of cow dung that flowed from Ryan’s mouth. Said fact checkers have already condemned certain arguments that Ryan still irresponsibly repeated.

So let’s look at what Sally thinks are lies:

Fact: While Ryan tried to pin the downgrade of the United States’ credit rating on spending under President Obama, the credit rating was actually downgraded because Republicans threatened not to raise the debt ceiling.

Well, actually – no. Standard and Poors was very specific that the reason for the downgrade was due to the amount of debt versus GDP, not that the debt limit was too low, and the inability of the politicans in government to reduce spending. There is nothing in the actual report about the downgrade that says that it is because we wouldn’t raise the debt limit. From the actual report:

  • The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the Administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilize the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.
  • More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges to a degree more than we envisioned when we assigned a negative outlook to the rating on April 18, 2011.
  • Since then, we have changed our view of the difficulties in bridging the gulf between the political parties over fiscal policy, which makes us pessimistic about the capacity of Congress and the Administration to be able to leverage their agreement this week into a broader fiscal consolidation plan that stabilizes the government’s debt dynamics any time soon.
  • The outlook on the long-term rating is negative. We could lower the long-term rating to ‘AA’ within the next two years if we see that less reduction in spending than agreed to, higher interest rates, or new fiscal pressures during the period result in a higher general government debt trajectory than we currently assume in our base case.

Sal continues:

Fact: While Ryan blamed President Obama for the shut down of a GM plant in Janesville, Wisconsin, the plant was actually closed under President George W. Bush. Ryan actually asked for federal spending to save the plant, while Romney has criticized the auto industry bailout that President Obama ultimately enacted to prevent other plants from closing.

Ryan did not accuse Obama of closing the plant – he spoke directly about Obama’s promise that under his policies the plant would “be here for another hundred years.” The Janesville plant closed in June of 2009, which while using a new tool called a calendar; I found that June 2009 occurred during the Obama administration – counter to Kohn’s claims. Here are Ryan’s words:

President Barack Obama came to office during an economic crisis, as he has reminded us a time or two. Those were very tough days, and any fair measure of his record has to take that into account. 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.

Kohn continues:

Fact: Though Ryan insisted that President Obama wants to give all the credit for private sector success to government, that isn’t what the president said. Period.

THe left has been trying to walk this one back for Obama because they know two things – 1) it represents his true view and 2) Americans violently disagree with it. In point of fact, Republicans aren’t saying that is what Obama said, that’s the same rhetorical trick that liberals use to say that Republicans don’t want any government when we say that we want smaller government. What Republicans are saying is that Obama implied was that Government is the primary reason for private sector success and without government; no one can work hard enough to succeed. Here are his exact words from the Roanoke speech:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me — because they want to give something back.  They know they didn’t — 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.

There is no reading of these words or the entirety of the speech that indicated that Obama doesn’t believe that government is responsible for America’s success. Period.

But back to Sally:

Fact: Though Paul Ryan accused President Obama of taking $716 billion out of Medicare, the fact is that that amount was savings in Medicare reimbursement rates (which, incidentally, save Medicare recipients out-of-pocket costs, too) and Ryan himself embraced these savings in his budget plan.

The “savings” that Kohn references are actually just across the board cuts in reimbursement to doctors. The left-leaning PolitiFact rates Ryan’s statement (also issued by Romney) as “half-true”, not because it is half false but because they didn’t think that the Republicans explained it enough:

The CBO determined in 2011 that the federal health care law would reduce Medicare outlays by $507 billion between 2012 and 2021. Ina more recent estimate released this year, the CBO looked at the years 2013 to 2022 and determined the health care law affected Medicare outlays by $716 billion.

So it’s timing that’s making the cuts bigger, not changes to Medicare.

Romney also send that the spending reduction ” takes that money out of the Medicare trust fund and uses it to pay for Obamacare.”

Romney has a point here, but it’s not about money being moved from one account to another. Let us explain. Romney said, “Under the president’s plan, he cuts Medicare by $716 billion, takes that money out of the Medicare trust fund and uses it to pay for Obamacare.” This wording isn’t as troublesome as other statements we’ve seen on this topic, including from Romney himself.

Sally says:

Elections should be about competing based on your record in the past and your vision for the future, not competing to see who can get away with the most lies and distortions without voters noticing or bother to care. Both parties should hold themselves to that standard.

I couldn’t agree more. Perhaps Sally should follow her own advice.

The Other McCain has more.

Also Professor Jacobson, who unlike Obama, is a real Law Professor.

34 thoughts on “Sally Kohn Fact Checks Paul Ryan – And Fails Miserably

  1. After following up on this a bit more, and branching out on to associated links ….

    I am quickly coming to the conclusion that liberalism anymore is more of a mental disorder than a political theology.

  2. A couple of notes, Utah. First, here’s a punctuation problem that changes the meaning and may make your claim misleading. Your quote here: ““I believe that if our government is there to support you. This plant will be here for another hundred years.”

    Obviously since the word “IF” is the fourth word, the period should be a comma. And besides, you distorted the quote by leaving out the middle section (with no ellipses showing that something is missing). The full quote was, “And 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.”

    In addition, the story that you link states, “Before Obama was sworn in, the Janesville plant closed in late 2008, eliminating 6,000 jobs..” And even the Wikipedia site you link states: “In October 2008, GM announced Janesville Assembly would be largely idled December 23, 2008 when production of SUVs would end. A skeleton crew continued to work at Janesville Assembly through June, 2009, completing the Janesville/Isuzu light truck contract.”

    Obviously October 2008 and December 23, 2008, both came before Obama’s inauguration in January 2009. When you get more accustomed to using that “new tool called a calendar,” I’m sure you’ll understand that. 😉

    Or are you and Ryan trying to imply that Obama should someone have gone in a month after most of the plant was closed and start it up himself? Or that he could somehow give “the assistance you need to re-tool and make this transition” AFTER GM had closed down most of its operations there? In this section, at least, it seems you’re being even less honest than Kohn.

    • First, I didn’t pull the quote and edit it – that is the full text from Ryan’s speech. Secondly, how do these words state that Obama is at fault?

      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.

      In case you haven’t noticed, Professor – Obama “saved” GM and spent billions in stimulus and it didn’t save the Janesville plant. I don’t expect anyone to go in months later – but it is now 2012 and the plant (that the taxpayers all own a share of) is still closed. It seems that Obama’s plan that you so eloquently defined for us wasn’t such of a winner after all. With billions at his disposal and a promise in his pocket, when he had a chance to save the facility, he didn’t. It seems Ryan might have been closer to the truth if he had stated that it was Obama’s fault.

      Read into it what you will. It isn’t even about the specific plant, the plant is a rhetorical proxy for the failed economic policies of the President, nothing more, nothing less which is made clear through the second sentence:

      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.

      You and Kohn are birds of a feather – parse when necessary, insist on specificity to your definitions when required and deny the context always.

    • Question: When, exactly, did the Obama Administration assume control of GM? If they could dictate which dealers could stay open and which dealers had to close, then did they not have enough authority to determine shich plants would close and which plants would be saved?

      • That’s actually a good point. The Washington Examiner pointed out that:

        In October 2008 Obama doubled down on his promise to keep Janesville plant open: “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.”

        Technically the plant is still listed as “idled” not closed, so I guess The One can still don his cape and save it!

  3. “I didn’t pull the quote and edit it – that is the full text from Ryan’s speech.”

    My apologies–it was Ryan, then, who was being disingenous, and who was “parsing as necessary.” You’re simply supporting his disingenuity on this point. What he said and what he meant to imply obviously may vary.

    “Obama’s plan that you so eloquently defined for us”

    Sorry, here I don’t understand what you’re talking about.

    “You and Kohn are birds of a feather – parse when necessary”

    Sounds like you’re part of the same flock, with your inane “calendar” comment. For all practical purposes, the plant closed under Bush and you know it. (And no, I don’t think the closing is either Bush’s fault or Obama’s.) And I suspect that you know that what Ryan said and what he meant to imply are different–unless you’re less intelligent than I give you credit for.

    • Let’s try this one more time. C-O-N-T-E-X-T. You are familiar with this concept? It is what damns Obama when Sal says that we know that he didn’t mean the “You didn’t build that” statement and the entirety of the speech clearly shows that he did.

      It is true that the closure was announced in 2008 and it was originally anticipated to close in 2010 – but the simple fact is that it halted operations in June of 2009. That is an indisputable fact, one recognized even by yourself.

      There is a difference in announcing that a plant will be closed and actually closing it. There is always a way to change a plant closure, I’ve made decisions like that myself, but to claim that it was closed under Bush because a planned event was announced during his term is simply not supportable – what is supportable is that a speech at the actual facility by a presidential candidate issuing a vague promise giving hope to keep it open (if only they would vote for him) and then not forestalling the closure is reprehensible. Of course, many liberals still blame Reagan for Obama’s issues so I guess it is just as legitimate to blame Bush for an announcement by a company that wasn’t yet owned by the government.

      As president, he had all the assets at his disposal to do what he stated in his speech…and he didn’t. It probably was the right business decision to close it but if it was, it was irresponsible for Obama to go there in the first place.

      That’s me saying he is responsible, not Paul Ryan.

      • Again, you’re diverting the attention from what you posted, and I don’t understand what relevance the first paragraph of your latest comment has to anything.

        “to claim that it was closed under Bush because a planned event was announced during his term is simply not supportable ”

        Perhaps. But to claim it was closed under Bush because almost the entire plant had been shut down (except for “a skeleton crew” finishing up one line) is supportable. And you’re smart enough to know it.

        • And you are being tendentious and insulting.

          The “context” relevance is that you have seized on a factoid that is irrelevant to the context of the illustration just to be able to create an “ah ha!” moment in hopes of discrediting the overall thrust.

          There is no “perhaps” – the plant was not closed until June of 2009, but that it was shuttered on that date is irrelevant to the discussion because those speech lines were directed at Obama’s economic “successes” with the Janesville plant being used as an illustration to 1) show that Ryan has ties to the economic downturn and 2) illustrate that things haven’t really worked out as promised.

  4. Anyone who reads that article and then, for whatever reason, stumbles upon this little blog, is going to see right through your distortions. Its sad you can’t find something factual to say that would make a middle class person vote for Romney. Its scary as a matter of fact.

    • I can encapsulate the reason for middle class people to vote for a Romney/Ryan ticket in one word…”Obama”.

      And thanks for reading “this little blog”.

    • Wow. I guess you are right. Boy, that AP fact check really changed my view.

      Didn’t think I would get to recycle this so soon:

      Well, damn, James – you got us on that one, yessiree. The email is one that has made the rounds – while the facts in the body appear to be largely true, the conclusion that is drawn is not supported by them.

      But, by God, you have us dead to rights that conservatives are the only one’s who deal in rumors and innuendo – which is deliciously ironic after witnessing the recent performances of Obama, Harry Reid, Stephanie Cutter, Bill Burton and Chris Matthews, don’t you think?

      Brilliant “progressives” would never parrot idiotic points like Bush knew about 9/11 before it happened, he only initiated the war to please his daddy, claim that it was a war for oil (or profit), claim that that we torture after approving the same field manuals under Democratic administrations, never state that Saddam was not trying to acquire yellow cake uranium or that there weren’t WMD’s found, they would never be for the war before they were against it, and never accuse a government official of outing a “secret agent” who was widely known around the DC social circuit and was riding a desk at Langley, now would they? They are just too honest.

      They would never start a PR campaign that a sitting Republican president hated black people in the aftermath of a natural disaster or that people could only oppose a president just because he is black, no – your team would never hear the “dog whistle” racists comments in every single comment a conservative makes – I would point out that if you can actually hear the whistle, you must be the racist dog because the rest of us can’t hear it. Isn’t that the point of having a dog whistle…for only them to hear it?

      Of course, no “progressive” would ever claim that Trig wasn’t Sarah’s child, that John McCain had an illegitimate black child or that he wasn’t a US citizen because he was born in the Panama Canal Zone (for the record, Democrats were the first “birthers”).

      For sure, they would never promote the brilliance of a president and yet support the embargo of his college records…and that president would never write a book filled with “composite” facts (also known as lies) or allow a publicly available author’s bio to state he was born in Kenya just to bolster his own life story…nope – that’s just crazy talk!

      There would never be a rumor that Mitt Romney is a polygamist and they would never start a whisper campaign against a candidate who is a member the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, of course they would never be so two-faced to Mormon bash while having a Senate majority leader from their party of the same faith (or would they?). They would never insinuate that he was a vicious gay bashing high school student (whose sister couldn’t recall the “victim” ever mentioning the incident) that caused the death of the supposed victim over 40 years later…never would do that.

      They would never assert that someone was cruel to dogs while supporting a presidential candidate who sees them as the main course.

      They would never have a Majority Leader state on the Senate floor that Romney didn’t pay taxes, have a presidential surrogate claim that he’s a felon or anything like that – both with absolutely not a single shred of proof. They would never try to tie a Republican presidential candidate to South American death squads with no foundation. There would never be a liberal media organization like, say, Gawker Media, that would say that Romney’s finances and use of Cayman Island banks looks like a Mafia organization when utilizing a similar Cayman structure to shield their own earnings. Nope. Never happen.

      Your side has never called people racist without foundation, attributed a racist quote to a popular conservative radio host that he never said to prevent him from being part of a private business deal (an NFL team). they have never tried to tie dozens of shootings/bombings over the past 20 years to right wing radio, conservative causes or Tea Party organizations, they have never faked hate attacks on themselves to gain attention for GLBT issues, your side surely wouldn’t create a myth that a black representative was spit on during the health care debate – one that was dutifully repeated for months on end without proof, our president and the leader of your party would never run an ad saying an opposing candidate caused a woman’s cancer…

      Hell, no – you are too virtuous and pure.

      But on the other hand, I’m neither surprised or disappointed when “progressives” do that.

    • Look, G. I don’t concede anything, there are no such things as competing facts, there are only competing opinions. James is offering opinions and ‘interpretations”, I am offering the actual facts. I posted what I did in response to his assertion made about how “they all do it” not as prima facie evidence of anything.

      There are plenty of sources out there that are refuting these biased “fact checks” – they do happen to be on the right because the supposedly unbiased “fact checkers” are all putting a left wing spin on it with similar opinions and “interpretations” as those proffered by the good Professor.

  5. You quote part of the president’s Roanoke speech, but for some reason decided to stop RIGHT BEFORE THIS LINE:

    “The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together.”

    Notice how the sentence starts with “The point is”? That means, this is HIS POINT! You don’t have to try to push your interpretation of the part you are quoting because its meaning is RIGHT there, RIGHT AFTER you ended the quote. Period. See how it contradicts your interpretation of it and the entire narrative pushed by Ryan and the rest of the republican propaganda machine?

    That you didn’t include this key sentence means to me that you are consciously trying to deceive and play the same dirty game republicans are playing.

    • @Espinoza,

      When you watch the speech, it is perfectly clear that Obama meant exactly what he said: people do not build their own businesses. He believes that EVERYTHING depends on govt. What’s more, this wasn’t even original thought. It has been part of the Progressive mindset for a while now. See Lakoff’s “Little Blue Book” for a better background (note: he is a leading Leftist — not a “right winger”).

      What I find telling is that those who think we need govt. to do anything somehow ignore the fact that people built govt. Makes one wonder how we ever “evolved” without govt. to make that happen…

    • Wow, espy, you know what? I stand corrected. That changes the whole thing…and you left out the next line that changed it right back:

      The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

      First, public services are significantly different from private businesses and second, who do you think “the government” is?

      Government gets its money to create the infrastructure from the very people who benefit from it – the taxpayers. Obama was setting up government as some kind of magically benevolent entity that creates opportunities for people to succeed and without it, we all would fail.

      I posted the link to the entire speech so anyone could see it for themselves.

    • Espinoza; I wish M. would’ve included the line, for it accentuates his argument that Obama is about bigger govt. I mean, who the hello do you think the “we” in the sentence is? Golly, could it be, um, I don’t know, um, the GOVT??!! Ding! I win the prize!

  6. Utah,

    These folks do not care. You could hand them a PERFECT 3-level wedding cake with 1 mis-shaped icing flower and they would focus on that one flower and tell you that makes the whole cake a POS.

    Then they would turn and take their “sides” pile of crap with 1 jelly bean in it and tell you that jelly bean makes the crap better than your cake.

    here’s the whole situation in a nutshell:

    Isaiah 5:20-21

    20 Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
    who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
    who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter.

    21 Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes
    and clever in their own sight.

    Unfortunately, it is our lot in life to try to correct this inversion, not so much for those with the scales, but for those who may still hear, turn and be saved. Keep up the good fight, brother.

  7. Boy, reading down that litany of posts defending Obama, and the GM bail out so lets just clear this up real quick like. :)..

    That’s GM’s business position, and yeah … it really helps American (oops … Chinese I meant to say) workers. I think it is pretty wise to know where your tax dollars go.

  8. So, Professor Progressive, Tennessee and espy – where did you guys go?

    I found another little chronology that you might be interested in to bolster your knowledge of the GM plant in Janesville. Apparently my information, while accurate, wasn’t quite complete. Conn Carroll, the Senior Editorial Writer at the Washington Examiner fills in some gaps…accurately fills them in:

    The Washington Post, and a host of other liberal media outlets, are calling this passage “misleading” because the Janesville plant “closed before the president was inaugurated.” The Post is dead wrong. Here are the facts:

    1. On February 13, 2008 Obama said in Janesville : “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.”

    2. In June 2008 GM announced that the Janesville plant would stop production of medium-duty trucks by the end of 2009, and stop production of large SUVs in 2010 or sooner.

    3. In October 2008 Obama doubled down on his promise to keep Janesville plant open: “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.”

    4. In December 2008 GM idled production of GM SUVs at the Janesville plant. Medium-duty truck assembly continued.

    5. In April 2009, four months after Obama was inaugurated, GM idled production of medium-duty trucks.

    6. In September 2011, more than two years after Obama was inaugurated, GM reiterates that Janesville plant is on “stand by status.” Auto industry observer David Cole, tells the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel it would be premature to say the Janesville plant will never reopen.

    6. Today the GM facility in Janesville still has not been retooled “so we can build the fuel-efficient cars of tomorrow and create good-paying jobs,” as Obama promised.

    There are links embedded in the article here. I’m either too lazy to put them in or I don’t think you are worth the time – you choose, the end effect is the same.

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