Debunking the Paul Ryan Myths

Friday, August 17, 2012
By: Matthew Brooks

It's only been a few days since he was added to the Republican ticket, but already the Democrat-driven Paul Ryan myths are piling up.  In a ritual familiar to many of us from past GOP VP roll-outs, the feverish emails, hyped-up lists and overwrought press releases reveal a desperate Democratic party straining to scare American voters - including Jewish voters.  The aim this year is to get voters to focus on Ryan rather than President Obama's record of failure.  And they're scared that voters will judge for themselves and come to the same conclusion as Bill Clinton's Chief of Staff Erskine Bowles, who offered this glowing assessment of Ryan and his signature budget.

Have any of you all met Paul Ryan? We should get him to come to the university. I’m telling you, this guy is amazing. I always thought I was okay at arithmetic, this guy can run circles around me. And he is honest, he is straightforward, he is sincere. And the budget he came forward with is just like Paul Ryan. It is a sensible, straightforward, honest, serious budget, and it cut the budget deficit, just like [the budget commission Bowles co-chaired] did, by $4 trillion.

That's a pretty good 'reference' given the work that lies ahead for the next President of the United States and his team.  Especially in contrast to Bowles's assessment of the incumbent.

The president came out with his own plan. And, the president as you remember, came out with a budget. And I don’t think anybody took that budget very seriously. The Senate voted against it 97-to-nothing.

The need to distract voters from making that sort of assessment of the two presidential tickets drives the zeal to propagate myths, some silly, some scurrilous. Here are just five we've seen since the weekend.

1. Paul Ryan is a social issues crusader

This is one of the most mindless and predictable attacks.  While it's true that Ryan's views on social issues reflect his Midwestern congressional district, those issues have never been his focus.  Also striking - Ryan parted ways with social conservatives on one of the major gay rights issues considered by Congress during his tenure, a proposed law to ban job discrimination based on sexual preference

2. Paul Ryan will take away your Bubbe's Medicare

The recent exchange between CNN's Wolf Blitzer and DNC Chairperson Debbie Wasserman Schultz attracted a lot of attention, especially from amused Republicans.  The serious take-away from the episode is that Wasserman Schultz was bound and determined not to admit that today's seniors - as well as those nearing retirement - will be unaffected by the Medicare reforms Ryan proposed in tandem with Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden.  Democrats plainly intend to propagate this lie far and wide.  But it's still a lie - and an egregious one given that the intent is to scare seniors.

Since Democrats are trying to suggest otherwise, it's also important to make clear that under the Ryan-Wyden plan, the decision to opt for a private plan instead of traditional Medicare would be left up to the individual, not dictated by the government.

3.  Paul Ryan is a blank slate on foreign policy

It's pretty rich to hear people who promoted then-Sen. Barack Obama four years ago faulting Ryan for having specialized in other legislative areas than foreign policy.  And while it's true that few can claim to have sat in as many committee hearings or gone on as many congressional trips as Joe Biden racked up in his 36 years in the Senate, it's also true that Biden is infamous for getting every important foreign policy question wrong - from the Cold War through the Iraq surge.

And Paul Ryan has an excellent record of support for the State of Israel, which is why Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. described him as ‘very supportive’ of the Jewish state within hours of the announcement that he was Romney's pick.

Paul Ryan has also demonstrated a consistent understanding of why our alliance with Israel is so critical - one that compares favorably to President Obama's equivocal record of support.  Explaining his approach on his House of Representatives web site, he said:

America has no better friend in the Middle East than the nation of Israel...  We cannot advocate for a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that jeopardizes Israel’s safety or legitimizes terrorism.

Notwithstanding Rep. Ryan's decision to make budget policy his area of specialization, he has demonstrated that he has reflected seriously on our nation's role in the world.

Critics who say he has no relevant experience are almost certainly compounding egregious hypocrisy with credentialism.  By their standard, Bill Clinton would have had even less foreign policy 'experience' than Ryan when he took the oath of office as President.

4. Paul Ryan opposed efforts to strengthen sanctions on Iran.

Rep. Ryan has supported every single Iran sanctions measure supported by AIPAC - the pro-Israel umbrella group - and cosponsored many of them.  The bogus Iran sanctions charge is based on Republicans having voted as a bloc to reject Democratic procedural motions - motions whose only actual effect would be to torpedo unrelated legislation.  While it's ludicrous to claim Ryan opposed measures to strengthen Iran sanctions, some journalists who know better have given this meritless charge some credence.

Paul Ryan is callous to those less fortunate than himself and is generally indifferent to social justice.

This is perhaps the ugliest item on the list because it reflects the politics of personal destruction.  Rep. Ryan has articulately detailed and defended a view of social justice that is consistent with his Catholic faith and our common American tradition.  It shows the influence of his mentor, Jack Kemp who promoted an opportunity society in which government would be there to protect the weak and vulnerable while minimizing obstacles to individual flourishing.  People who are satisfied with our welfare state status quo are free to defend it, but they overreach when they presume that it is the only possible framework for taking care of those in need.  Given our inability to afford our current welfare state, they do the poor no favors when they lash out in personal terms at leaders like Paul Ryan who would reform it to better respond to our current challenges.

Another frequent claim is that Rep. Ryan is animated by Ayn Rand's ideas.  Rep. Ryan has cited Rand's novels as among the books that have influenced him.  So have many others from all points on the political spectrum.  Rep. Ryan has also made it clear that he rejects her atheism and 'objectivism,' diverging from her legacy on a fundamental ethical level.  Whatever the criticisms of his budget proposals, it's impossible to honestly portray the reformed government he envisions as a Randian utopia.

RJC Applauds Romney's Choice of Ryan as Running Mate

Washington, D.C. (August 11, 2012) - The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) praised Gov. Mitt Romney for selecting Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan as his running mate, citing his determination to face our nation's most serious problems and his record of proven leadership.

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan are right to reject the notion that America is doomed to economic stagnation and a loss of influence around the world.  President Obama wants Americans to believe that - because he's determined to evade blame for his failures in office.  But today in Norfolk, Gov. Romney and Rep. Ryan made a powerful argument that America can do better - if we embrace the bold, principled leadership they're offering.

"Paul Ryan has challenged both party leaderships in Washington to face up to growing fiscal problems that threaten to blight our nation's future.  And while congressional Republicans have responded to the challenge, Democrats have ducked responsibility.  The Democrat-controlled US Senate hasn't passed a budget since 2009.  And Obama's Treasury Secretary admitted to Congressman Ryan that the administration prefers to only criticize GOP efforts and therefore, will not put a plan of its own to save Medicare and other troubled programs on the table.

"Today, on behalf of himself and Gov. Romney, Paul Ryan promised, 'We won't duck the tough issues...we will lead!'  That commitment - one Paul Ryan is well-qualified by his experience to fulfill - creates a stark and favorable contrast with the increasingly desperate Obama administration."

Regarding the House Budget Committee Chairman's commitment to national security, Brooks added, "Paul Ryan also understands that America must continue to serve as a bulwark against deadly threats in the international arena.  He's successfully fought efforts to trim the budget by hollowing out our military, noting that because the consequences of American decline would be so destabilizing, 'a safer world and a more prosperous America go hand-in-hand.'

"And we are pleased that by picking Paul Ryan, Gov. Romney has opted for a running  mate who has a record Israel's Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, has already praised as 'very supportive' of the Jewish state.  Paul Ryan has earned appreciation from pro-Israel voters by rejecting the Obama administration's tactic of pressuring Israel to make concessions its leaders believe will undermine its security - and he rightly insists that a rejection of violence and incitement on the Palestinian side is an essential precondition for a meaningful peace agreement."

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Times of Israel, "Romney's running mate Ryan 'very supportive of Israel,' says Ambassador Oren," August 11, 2012.


Tim Geithner to Paul Ryan: "We don't have a definitive solution... We just don't like yours"

RJC Releases New Web Ad: "Backtrack"

Ad Highlights President Obama's flip-flop on Jerusalem

Washington, D.C. (July 31, 2012) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) today released a new web ad focused on President Obama's flip-flop on Jerusalem.
The ad, entitled, "Backtrack" highlights then-candidate Barack Obama's statements about Jerusalem being the capital of Israel and contrasts them with White House spokesman Jay Carney's inability to answer a reporter's question: "What city does this administration consider to be the capital of Israel, Jerusalem or Tel Aviv?"

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "Candidate Obama gained support in the pro-Israel community by saying, " The fact is that Jerusalem IS Israel's capital." As President, Obama has backed away from that assurance. This is another broken promise from Barack Obama, one the American people will remember in November. It's another reason why many in the Jewish community have buyer's remorse."

The ad can be seen here.

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Background - quotes used in the ad:


Obama: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided."
Speech to AIPAC, June 4, 2008 Text  Video


Obama: "The fact is that Jerusalem is Israel's capital."
ABC News interview, July 23, 2008 Text  Video

Carney: White House press briefing, July 26, 2012 Text  Video (at 50:15)

RJC Releases Two New Ads and Launches "My Buyer's Remorse" Web Site

Washington, D.C. (July 30, 2012) -- Today the Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) released two ads, entitled "Bruce" and "Renie", along with the "Michael" ad previewed last week, in conjunction with the launch of the web site. is the central online platform for the RJC's unprecedented $6.5 million outreach effort to the Jewish community this year.

The web site will showcase a series of ads in which real people tell real stories of why they voted for Barack Obama in 2008, how they became disillusioned with him, and why they won't vote for him in 2012.

In addition, a key feature of the site will be the ability for visitors to upload their own video testimonials and tell their personal stories of Obama buyer's remorse.

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "There is a deep sense of disappointment and unease in the Jewish community over President Obama's responses to our economic crisis, his foreign policy choices, and in particular his policies relating to Israel and the Middle East. Many people, including long-time Democrats, are rethinking their support for Obama in 2008 and we're providing a platform for their voices."

The RJC's $6.5 million outreach campaign will encompass web ads, extensive TV ads, print ads, mail and phone efforts, and a massive grassroots campaign with volunteers on the ground in key communities.

The RJC will periodically release more ads in the coming weeks at

RJC Lauds Romney's Jerusalem Speech, Sees 'Clear Choice' for Jewish Voters

Washington, D.C. (July 29, 2012) -- The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) praised Gov. Mitt Romney for remarks today in Jerusalem affirming the vital importance of our nation's alliance with Israel.

RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks said, "While Gov. Romney has been scrupulous in avoiding any criticism of President Obama while on foreign soil, this galvanizing speech crystallizes the clear choice facing American voters.  Plainly, President Romney's approach to our critical alliance with Israel would be a vast improvement over President Obama's.

"Four years ago, then-Likud party leader Netanyahu emphasized to candidate Obama that for Israelis, there was no concern more urgent than the rising nuclear threat posed by Iran.  That Prime Minister Netanyahu felt it necessary to make similar remarks today demonstrates how President Obama has missed critical opportunities to address that threat.

"When the Prime Minister told Gov. Romney, 'We have to be honest and say that all the diplomacy and sanctions so far have not set back the Iranian program by one iota,' the message is clear: we need a new approach - one that is commensurate with the seriousness of the threat.

"In his speech today, Gov. Romney reiterated a point he's emphasized consistently since he visited Israel in 2007 on a trip RJC was proud to sponsor: 'the conduct of Iran's leaders gives us no reason to trust them with nuclear material.' Prime Minister Netanyahu called special attention to that point to emphasize that saying that Iran can't be allowed 'to have a nuclear weapon' is an inadequate formulation given the nature of the regime and the stakes for Israel.

"Gov. Romney speaks for the vast majority of Jewish Americans - and of all Americans - when he explains why we hold dear a friendship based on shared interests and shared values.  We appreciate that he made the effort to travel to Israel to make that statement - and that he's promised to make the Jewish state the destination for his first foreign voyage as President."

RJC Releases Preview of "Buyer's Remorse" Ad

Wednesday, July 25, 2012
By: RJC Press Office

RJC Releases Preview of "Buyer's Remorse" Ad
Ad series to  showcase former Obama voters telling their personal stories

July 25, 2012…In a preview of the Republican Jewish Coalition's upcoming multi-million dollar effort to reach out to Jewish voters, entitled "My Buyer's Remorse", the organization today released "Michael," the first ad in the series.

The ads highlight the real stories of real people who voted for Barack Obama in 2008 but, because of his failed economic policies and their concern about his handling of the U.S.-Israel relationship, will not be voting for Obama in 2012.

"These folks, in telling their own stories, give voice to the nagging doubts that many in the Jewish community feel about Obama," said RJC Executive Director Matt Brooks.

The preview of the first ad can be seen on the homepage of the RJC's new web site at and on YouTube.

Fed up with Democrats’ shakedowns

Monday, July 23, 2012
By: Noah Silverman, RJC Congressional Affairs Director

The upshot of this week's political developments is clear: President Obama's ideology and the way he talks about it are becoming a real problem for his reelection campaign.

By now, everyone who pays attention to politics has heard about the President's controversial remarks last Friday  After touting his proposal to hike taxes on small businesses and wealthy individuals, the President observed (at the 33:32 mark):

You know, 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.

Many commentators have noted that these remarks hew closely to the argument offered by Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren in a remarks that were widely circulated on the Internet.

But Obama’s tone may have been even more dismissive of business owners concerns, which leads to what Washington Post political reporter Aaron Blake calls "Obama's 'You didn’t build that' problem."

Obama’s team argues that he is pushing for an increase in government funding for programs that are broadly popular.... But the bluntness of his “you didn’t build that” quote is going to obscure those details. After all, Obama was basically addressing business owners directly in an adversarial way. (emphasis added)

John Kass vividly recalls the “government men coming from City Hall” to collect tribute from his father and uncle as they struggled to build their small business - a neighborhood supermarket:

They wanted steaks.

We didn't eat red steaks at home or yellow bananas. We took home the brown bananas and the brown steaks because we couldn't sell them. But the government men liked the big, red steaks, the fat rib-eyes two to a shrink-wrapped package. You could put 20 or so in a shopping bag.

"Thanks, Greek," they'd say.

That was government.

Many Americans have similar impressions - of government more as an impediment to the fulfillment of their ambitions than a help. Many more worry that an expanding government will tip the scales in the wrong direction by saddling taxpayers with ever-higher taxes to pay for ever-growing social programs and debt service and squelching innovation with burdensome regulation.

Obama’s off-the-cuff encomium to the indispensability of government to our fulfillment only begs the questions that are weighing on these Americans' minds.

    • Based on what are we to sustain any confidence that a government that squandered the 2009 Stimulus will do better if it sets out on another binge?

    • When so many state governments are staggering under the burden of past promises come due, why does the federal government seem more interested in bailing out the most imprudent of them than in addressing its own underfunded promises?

    • What limiting principle prevents this rationale from becoming a justification for unending government power and money grabs? If there is none, it’s no exaggeration to say that accepting this argument would leave our traditional notions of property rights and limited government entirely hollowed out.

Liberals like President Obama may have a tough time understanding where Americans who have such concerns are coming from. They’re used to feeling frustrated that government isn’t growing faster.

Their exasperation is evident in the current spasm of saber-rattling over how to deal with the scheduled expiration of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Democrat Senators can’t contain their bewilderment at colleagues - and voters - who would deny them the proceeds from soaking ‘the rich,’ which they see as a politically easy windfall to collect.

Seemingly, their ideological tunnel-vision makes it impossible for them to look at it from the perspective of people like John Kass’s father. If they could, perhaps they’d understand how outrageous it sounds to struggling small business owners when "government men" insist that Americans who produce tax revenue are "doing fine" and it's those who consume revenue who are bearing the brunt of the weakest economic recovery in living memory.

They’d see Democrats whose actions bespeak a dogged determination to "take care of their own," an attitude that makes Democrat politicians' habit of citing true public goods like public safety and roads appear revoltingly cynical.

The Americans whose concerns the President so brusquely belittled hear the indifference and contempt in his words loud and clear. They see through the liberal Democrat shakedown style of politics.

And that's why this has been a bad week for President Obama.

RJC extends condolences to victims of the Bulgarian bus bombing and their families

Thursday, July 19, 2012
By: Shari Hillman, RJC Communications Director

The attack against Israeli tourists boarding a tour bus in Bulgaria has horrified our community and the world.

The RJC extends its sympathies to the victims of bombing, and to their families.

We join with Israel and Jewish communities around the world in condemning this act of terrorism and calling for those responsible to be brought to justice.

Political speech at synagogue requires balance

Friday, July 13, 2012
By: Shari Hillman, RJC Communications Director

**Update** Rabbi Lance Sussman told JTA that that Keneseth Israel is committed to having an event with a prominent Republican speaker in the near future. He has been in touch with the RJC to move that program forward. We look forward to working with him to provide some balance in a future program.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Debbie Wasserman Schultz is scheduled to speak Monday night at Keneseth Israel, a large Reform synagogue in a suburb of Philadelphia. The announcement on the synagogue's web site says that DWS and local Democratic elected officials will speak, "in support of President Obama and his relationship to the Jewish community and the State of Israel." Oh, and, "Representatives of Governor Romney are being asked to speak at a later date (tba)."

Now look at the official invitation to the event:


It shows that the event is sponsored by "Jewish Americans for Obama" and "Organizing for America-Pennsylvania" – in other words, the Obama reelection campaign. The event is clearly a campaign rally.

To be fair, Keneseth Israel has expressed openness to working with the Republican Jewish Coalition to bring in a Republican speaker in the future. And the synagogue's announcement does say that Romney representatives "are being asked to speak" – but not, "have been asked to speak." That would imply that the synagogue has good intentions, but hasn't yet laid the groundwork to provide the balance that a Jewish non-profit organization should.

It would benefit Keneseth Israel and other synagogues to take concrete steps to ensure balanced programming in advance of any announcements.

Everyone knows that the Jewish vote is up for grabs in this election and that Republicans have the opportunity to make real inroads in the Jewish community this year. When a Jewish synagogue or non-profit hosts a one-sided event like Keneseth Israel's, without showing real effort to provide a comparable opportunity to the other party, it's wrong. It opens the synagogue or organization up to severe and justified criticism for engaging in campaign-related activities that could cost them their non-profit status. We'd rather those groups opened their doors to Republican speakers, so that the community can hear from both sides of the aisle. We're not looking to silence anyone; we're looking for balance and the opportunity to be heard.

Dershowitz Insists: National Jewish Democratic Council doesn't speak for me on Adelson

Monday, July 09, 2012
By: Shari Hillman, RJC Communications Director

Alan Dershowitz has written a devastating criticism of the NJDC's recent scurrilous attacks on Sheldon Adelson. His defense of Adelson is spot on:

David Harris, the President of the National Jewish Democratic Council, has asked Jewish Democrats to sign a petition demanding that Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican Party stop taking campaign contributions from Sheldon Adelson, and return those already received. They claim his money is "tainted." This absurd allegation comes from a highly questionable, if not totally discredited, source -- namely a former employee who was fired and is suing Adelson. He claims that Adelson approved of prostitution in his Macau casinos. Harris has apparently credited this claim even though no evidence has been submitted to support it and no finding has been made by any court. Has he never heard of "due process" or the "presumption of innocence?"

I know Sheldon Adelson and I have worked with him on several matters relating to Israel and the Jewish community. I have spoken on behalf of the wonderful school he has built in Las Vegas. And have had the pleasure of teaching one of the brilliant graduates of that school. Adelson was deeply involved in the creation of the Birthright Israel Program, which has had extraordinary success in exposing young Jews to Israel. It's hard to find anyone who has done as much for the Jewish community as Sheldon Adelson. Adelson grew up in Boston in near poverty and is a shining example of the American dream. He is a self-made multi-billionaire who has contributed significantly to the world of modern technology and to the economic growth of Las Vegas and other areas. His generosity has helped repair the world.

I am a Democrat and do not agree with many of Adelson's political views, but I think it's outrageous for the National Jewish Democratic Council to level unfounded allegations against Adelson. They do not speak for me, and for the many other Jews who admire Adelson's contributions to the world, to America, to Israel and to the Jewish community. I don't know who Harris purports to speak for as President of the National Jewish Democratic Council, but his partisan gamesmanship is an embarrassment to many Jewish Democrats. The attack comes with particular ill grace from a Jewish organization, considering all that Adelson has done for Jewish causes, and considering the fact that there is nothing uniquely "Jewish" about the questionable allegations against him.

Read the whole thing.

Update: Abe Foxman has also weighed in.