Toledo—Paul Ryan is really upset with Barack Obama about that auto bailout.
Which means that Ryan is upset with himself.
In a campaign where the standard for what constitutes the “big lie” keeps getting adjusted upward, Ryan is trumping even Mitt Romney by attacking President Obama and Vice President Biden for backing policies that Ryan backed.
Picking up on the Romney campaign’s closing claim that the moves taken to rescue General Motors and Chrysler somehow damaged the auto industry—despite the fact that GM and Chrysler say different—Ryan has been banging away on the bailout.
“The facts, they speak for themselves. President Obama took GM and Chrysler into bankruptcy, taxpayers still stand to lose $25 billion dollars in the president’s politically managed bankruptcy,” the Republican nominee for vice president claimed at a rally in Racine, Wisconsin. “These companies, Chrysler in particular we know this story, are now choosing to expand manufacturing overseas.”
In the final days of a campaign that has taken the shine off his “golden boy” status, Ryan was going all-in on the Republican ticket’s biggest lie: a claim that Obama’s policies had somehow endangered the sprawling Jeep plant in Toledo, a critical battleground in the critical battleground state of Ohio.
That’s not true.
Yes, Ryan says, “These are the facts. These facts are inconvenient for the president but no one disputes them. The President and the Vice President, the problem is they simply can’t defend their record.”
That’s remarkably tough talk about the auto bailout that polling suggests is very popular, especially with voters in battleground states such as Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It is, as well, remarkably dishonest talk, which tries to obscure the facts that—in addition to saving an industry with 1 million jobs—the bailout is credited with spurring an auto manufacturing resurgence that has seen the creation of almost a quarter=million jobs and a pattern of profitable quarters for the Big Three.
That may be why GM officials, frustrated by the Republican campaign’s attempts to create a false impression among voters, took the rare step of issuing a statement that said Romney and Ryan appear to be getting their information from a “parallel universe.”
Even as he was fact-checked into a corner, Ryan kept up the (in the words of the Cleveland Plain Dealer) “flailing”—seemingly convinced that constant repetition can spin fantasy into reality.
“GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas,” Ryan said in a statement circulated by the Romney campaign, which conveniently neglected to note that they are expanding in the United States, as well.
“These are facts that voters deserve to know as they listen to the claims President Obama and his campaign are making,” continued Ryan. “President Obama has chosen not to run on the facts of his record, but he can’t run from them.”
But records are funny things.
Obama and Biden aren’t the only candidates on this year’s ballot who supported the auto bailout.
The Wisconsin congressman was one of thirty-two Republicans who backed the bailout, and his support was critical, as he was the ranking Republican on the House Budget Committee—which he now chairs. Ryan’s support gave conservative credibility to the bailout at a time when Romney was writing a New York Times op-ed headlined: “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt.”
In its response to the Romney’s attempt to create the false impression that Jeep production in Toledo might be shifted to China, Jeep’s parent company, Chrysler, dismissed Romney’s line as a “leap that would be difficult even for professional circus acrobats.”
But the Republican vice presidential candidate has outdone the Republican presidential candidate.
Ryan’s condemning President Obama for arranging an auto bailout that Ryan supported.
That’s not the work of an acrobat.
That’s the work of a contortionist.
Unfortunately, few in the mainstream media are holding Romney and Ryan accountable for their campaign falsehoods. Check out Eric Alterman's latest on the failed fact-checking of this election.