Ryan's Fact-Challenged Fact Checkers


Paul Ryan must have hit a home run last night – otherwise liberals wouldn't be going bonkers right now. No sooner did he move his tingle-inducing chassis off the stage than the liberal blogosphere erupted in outrage, accusing him of being a maligner and a liar.  

But what did Ryan say that was so bad? He falsely accused President Obama of promising during a campaign stop to keep a Government Motor plant in Janesville, Wisconsin—Ryan's district – open, but then letting it close once he got elected. Liberals, however, claim that the plant was already closed when President Obama delivered his remarks.

This prompted the Puffington Post to huff: "Paul Ryan Misleads With His Plant Closure Tale." Commenters on Daily Kos's open thread titled "Paul Ryan Blames Obama for a GM Plant Closed Under Bush" went all snarky. "If they just completely ignore Bush altogether they can make all the right wingers believe that before Obama took office everything was fantastic," scoffed one.

Now, I actually think that the plant story was the silliest part of Ryan's otherwise stellar speech. Holding presidents responsible for the fate of individual auto plants is idiotic in and of itself – but especially so if in your very next breath you are going to say that you'd "take freedom…any day over the supervision and sanctimony of the central planners."

But, then again, Obama did kinda ask for it. This is what he said in the speech that Ryan alluded to:

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.  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. 

In saying that "this plant will be here for another hundred years" when he is our president, he was suggesting that under him the plant would have some kind of a future. Ryan's Big Lie then is that instead of saying the president "suggested" he said the president "promised" he'd keep the plant open? So sue him!

But, as it turns out, the plant wasn't closed when Obama gave his speech on Feb 13, 2008. It was open. The liberals are challenging Ryan based on an Aug 16 story by David Shepardson, The Detroit News' auto reporter that said "the plant halted production in December 2008, when President George W. Bush was in office." But, as best as I can tell, Shepardson got it wrong. The decision to close the plant was made under Bush. However, the plant was not slated to close till the summer of 2009 – nearly a year and a half after Obama spoke and six months after he assumed office.

Here's what GazetteXtra.com, a Janesville paper, reported on Feb 2, 2009:

Full-size sport utility vehicle production has ended at the local General Motors plant, but medium-duty truck production is continuing—not starting—in Janesville.

And it likely will continue into May, when the lights finally go off in the facility that has been producing vehicles since 1923.

When GM officials announced last June that SUV production would cease in Janesville, they also said that medium-duty truck production would conclude by the end of 2009, or sooner if market conditions dictate.

What's more, the administration actually did consider keeping the Janesville plant alive after it nationalized GM by commandeering the bankruptcy process. According to Shepardson's story:

In June 2009, GM considered three sites to locate a small car: its Orion plant in Michigan; Janesville, Wis.; and a Spring Hill, Tenn., plant slated to close in November. GM picked Orion and later reopened Spring Hill.

Now why would Obama choose to close the only plant he had actively "suggested" he'd keep open? Could it possibly have something to do with the fact that it was in Ryan's (Republican) hometown? Just askin…