The bloom falls from Ryan’s rose

Paul Ryan in North Carolina yesterday.
Paul Ryan in North Carolina yesterday.
Associated Press

Given recent developments, Paul Ryan really ought to be on his best behavior when it comes to honesty. He’s been caught lying repeatedly, about matters large and small, over the last several days, and given the increased scrutiny, Ryan will have to be more cautious.

Or maybe not.

Mr. Ryan also cited bankruptcy numbers to make the point that failing businesses mean fewer jobs. “In 1980 under Jimmy Carter, 330,000 businesses filed for bankruptcy,” he said. “Last year, under President Obama’s failed leadership, 1.4 million businesses filed for bankruptcy.”

At a certain level, the comparison itself is idiotic – there was no global economic crash in 1980 or the years leading up to it. But just as important is the fact that Ryan’s figures are simply wrong.

The Republican vice presidential candidate told voters 1.4 million businesses filed for bankruptcy. The actual number is 47,806 – a number that happens to be steadily improving as the economy continues to slowly recover.

In other words, Ryan – hailed by the media as an honest “wonk” who loves facts and figures – was off by a factor of 29. (Kudos to the New York Times, by the way, for telling readers the truth, rather than just publishing Ryan’s falsehood because he said it.)

And in the bigger picture, Jon Chait explains that Ryan’s reputation “has suffered a massive, swift erosion…. Now mainstream pundits are defending Ryan with versions of the ‘well, all politicians fib’ defense. Given that this constituency was once portraying Ryan as unusually honest, this represents a huge retreat for his political brand.”

It’s about time.

Paul Ryan

The bloom falls from Ryan's rose