TAMPA — Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan gave a terrific acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention here Wednesday night.
It was well-written by speechwriters John McConnell and Matthew Scully (who also wrote Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech four years ago) and well-delivered by the usually wonkish Ryan, to the delight of the crowd that reveres him as a conservative hero.
The speech was full of nasty zingers (“He said his job is to, quote, ‘tell a story to the American people’ — as if that is the whole problem here? He needs to talk more and we need to be better listeners?”) and eloquent phrasing (“Now all that’s left is a presidency adrift, surviving on slogans that already seem tired, grasping at the moment that has already passed, like a ship trying to sail on yesterday’s wind.”) You can read the transcript here.
It also was riddled with misleading statements — about whether Obamacare diverted funds from Medicare; about a GM plant whose closure Ryan depicted as a broken Obama promise but which actually shut before the president’s inauguration; about whether the public got anything from the stimulus package (it did through tax cuts and other benefits); and others.
It is clear that the Romney-Ryan ticket is doubling down on the claim that the president is robbing Medicare to pay for Obamacare, as The Independent Agenda explains.
And though I disagree with Ryan and the other speakers’ wholesale condemnation of the stimulus bill — it did some good, but not enough — I think he had a pretty good account of where the administration went wrong on the economy:
“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 stimulus was a case of political patronage, corporate welfare and cronyism at their worst.
“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 … Maybe the greatest waste of all, was time.”
Then he went on to link the president’s health care plan to the sluggish economic recovery:
“You would think that any president, whatever his party, would make job creation and nothing else his first order of economic business, but this president didn’t do that. Instead, we got a long, divisive, all-or-nothing attempt to put the federal government in charge of health care.”
This is a standard Republican talking point, but Ryan said it well and succinctly. It has more than a grain of truth in it.
As I’ve written many times, I thought the entire stimulus should have been focused on building infrastructure, which leaves something of lasting and visible value. The tax cuts were useless and the one-time bailouts of state and local governments to save public workers’ jobs for a year only postponed the agony.
And I think the president made a big mistake by not going for a more stripped-down form of health care reform like, say, catastrophic health insurance for everyone. By going for such a big transformation, he may wind up in the history books or the dustbin of history — which this election will decide.
Howard Gold, columnist at MarketWatch and editor at large for MoneyShow.com, is founder of the political blog The Independent Agenda. Read “Four Things Romney Needs to Say and Do Now” and follow our coverage of the Republican National Convention from Tampa all week on The Independent Agenda, www.independentagenda.com
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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