Space, death panels and PowerPoint with Paul Ryan
September 22nd, 2012
11:51 PM ET
10 years ago

Space, death panels and PowerPoint with Paul Ryan

Orlando, Florida (CNN) - Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican vice presidential nominee who professes to be more about policy than politics, revealed his inner wonk Saturday at an Orlando town hall meeting that included a PowerPoint presentation about the nation's debt crisis.

At a time when Democrats have criticized Mitt Romney's presidential campaign for not delivering enough specifics about their policy proposals, Ryan commanded a packed gymnasium of 2,000 people and fielded questions that ranged from foreign policy to health care.

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This was the Wisconsin lawmaker's third town hall forum since the GOP presidential nominee selected him to join him on the party's ticket. Ryan told the audience he wanted to have a "two-way conversation," like the 500 or so listening sessions he has held in his district since he first got elected 14 years ago to serve the Badger State in the U.S. House of Representatives.

But before the question and answer portion of Saturday's event, Ryan used two large projector screens to illustrate the federal government's ever-increasing debt.

"I'm kind of a PowerPoint guy, so I hope you'll bear with me," he said.

Ryan used a graph to show that by 2040, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the United States will owe nearly 250% of the gross domestic product or the entire American economy. The current percentage is still lower today than it was during World War II, but the audience gasped when they saw the percentage spike from 2012 to 2040.

"The reason we just end this chart there is because the Congressional Budget Office tells us the economy effectively crashes at that point," he said. "This is the most predictable crisis we have ever had in this country.

"And more to the point, we know why it's happening, we know when it's happening, and we have a president who has literally not only done nothing... but made it worse. We need a new president. We need a president who will take on this challenge, who will lead and do something about this."

Ryan also said the debt problem was a national security concern.

Foreigners or foreign government owned 6% of the U.S. debt in 1970, he said, compared to 19% by 1990. And as of this past July, the lawmaker added, 48% of the debt is owned by foreign governments – with China top among them.

"We are now relying on other governments to basically cash-flow our government," Ryan said. "And when you rely on other countries to lend you their money to run your country, you lose your sovereignty. You lose control. You lose your independence. We have to get this under control, because this is harming our nation's sovereignty."

Romney's youngest son, Craig, appeared at the town hall held at the University of Central Florida. Craig Romney said that when he first met Ryan, he was impressed the Wisconsin legislator had a "grasp of the issues" and by his ability to simply and effectively talk about complicated topics.

The vice presidential hopeful was asked to address "the death panels we're going to have" as a result of Obamacare, which was a term used in 2009 by former Republican vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin to describe the Independent Payment Advisory Board that was established under the federal Affordable Care Act to find savings in Medicare.

The "death panel" moniker was debunked years ago, and Ryan tried to distance himself from Palin's description of the same group he continues to ridicule when he is on the stump.

"Well, that's not the word I'd choose to use to describe it," Ryan explained, before going onto explain why the board takes away choices for seniors.

"And so what Obamacare does is it says, 'No we're going to have price controls, and we're going to empower this board of 15 people that the president appoints – six-year terms, they can get renewed once - and the law says none of them have to have any medical training. And these 15 bureaucrats that President Obama appoints, their job each and every year is to cut Medicare payments to providers."

Ryan expressed concern that politicians won't be held accountable with the board in place.

"This politician's going to say, let me get this straight, the law requires that I've got to cut Medicare to providers, denying access to my constituents, but if I don't do that, and do nothing, this board of bureaucrats will do it and I never have to vote on it and it just happens automatically? Let the bureaucrats do it," Ryan said.

While campaigning near Florida's space coast, Ryan added additional elements to his stump speech: describing the U.S. space program as "a strategic national asset to America." But Obama, he said, has weakened the program.

"We have presided over a dismantling of the space program over the last four years," he said of Obama's administration. "He has put the space program on a path where we are conceding our global position as the unequivocal leader in space.

"Today, if we want to send an astronaut to the space station, we have to pay the Russians to take him there. China may one day looking down on us from the moon," he continued, eliciting boos from the audience.

Earlier on Saturday, the Romney-Ryan campaign announced an outline of four space-related priorities they would pursue if elected.

The GOP ticket says it would refocus NASA, providing it with "practical and sustainable missions" rather than increasing funding. The agency said it spent over $18.4 billion dollars in fiscal year 2011, though its 2013 funding request was slightly lower - about $17.8 billion.

A key focus of the program would be contributing to national security efforts.

"Space-based information capabilities are the central nervous system of the U.S. national security community," the document released by the campaign read. "If America is to remain strong as a nation, the national security space programs must remain strong and sustainable."

If elected, Romney vowed to include the space program in international efforts and "ease trade limitations, as appropriate, on foreign sales of U.S. space goods."

In his Saturday remarks, Ryan touted the space program's benefits to the broader economy.

"The space program strengthens the entrepreneurial spirit and commercial competitiveness," he said. "They launch new industries and new technologies."

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Filed under: 2012 • Florida • NASA • Paul Ryan
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. onlyfacts

    The space "program" also studies global warming by collecting data and reporting that data. That data says the earth is warming due to mans burning of fossil fuels. NASA also recommends we stop burning fossil fuels. Funny how Ryan didn't mention this. Could it be because Obama agrees with NASA and Romney and Ryan along with just about every Fox "News" zombie believes NASA climate science is a hoax? Romney/Ryan's game: talk to the people about something they are totally unaware of, lie to them and they will just flat out believe you. I don't want their kind leading my country!

    September 23, 2012 07:13 am at 7:13 am |
  2. Scott Pa

    What does a future supposed economic collapse, the crazy notion of death panels, and china looking down on us from space all have in common?
    They make Americans afraid to NOT vote for Vulture and Voucher!
    If we reelect Obama, the economy will crash, death panels will kill grandma, and china will laugh at us from the moon!

    September 23, 2012 07:21 am at 7:21 am |
  3. Steven Colo

    Lemme see if I can follow this wunderkind.

    1. Obama is spending us into oblivion.
    2. Obama is not spending enough on space programs.

    More ridiculousness from Romney/Ryan. "We need to cut our spending! But not from any actual programs. And while we're at it, let's expand space spending."

    September 23, 2012 07:41 am at 7:41 am |
  4. different chris

    I think the clear takeaway from all this is that the best way to fund the space program is by cutting the taxes of the very wealthy so they can donate to groups that promote fossil fuels and bans on gay marriage, then eliminate federal aid programs to cover the costs of those tax cuts.

    Of course, some people might question that logic, but clearly it's the best way to move forward because of course it is.

    September 23, 2012 07:42 am at 7:42 am |
  5. teatbag

    What, no mention it was President Bush who cancelled the space shuttle program long before Obama took office? There is one quality all of todays Republicans inherited from Reagan – Alzheimers.

    September 23, 2012 07:53 am at 7:53 am |
  6. maltytasker

    Obama would use a balanced approach to cut the debt. Romney's plan starts off in the hole, and would place the burden on the middle class, not the wealthy. Huge tax cuts for the wealthy, huge increases in defense spending, and no additional revenues. What does that tell you?

    September 23, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  7. Ricardo

    How u r going to reduce the deficit when GOP wants to go in war with Iran, Cuba as Ryan mention it yesterday. Who's gonna pay for those wars, I know we don't have the money.

    September 23, 2012 07:54 am at 7:54 am |
  8. maltytasker

    I can't wait for Politifact and Factcheck to report on Ryan's "facts."

    September 23, 2012 07:56 am at 7:56 am |
  9. sean kohen

    So Mr Ryan despises Obamacare.What does he propose to replace it with?

    September 23, 2012 07:58 am at 7:58 am |
  10. Fr33d0mhawk

    Ryan has shown for sure that he is the lunatic fringe. Back to the deathpanel lies, lies being the first resort of extremists because obedience to narrative is infinitely more important than acknowledging fact. I don't know how many times I have heard GOPers snivel about NASA and how the US would be best served by private interests taking over NASA's role of space taxi. The structural debt that Ryan is ChickenLittling over is the debt Ryan voted for, unfunded war against Iraq in order to enrich Halliburton, Medicare part B Big Pharma cashcow giveaway, tax cuts ensuring the two wars and Medicare part B would go unfunded in perpetuity, but now its all Obama's fault. If Ryan cared about China owning so much of our debt, then why did Ryan vote to increase the structural debt more than any other time in US history? Then Ryan tries to suggest that its Obama who wants to end Medicare, not Ryan who will give a chump check to seniors that will never pay for private health insurance, I mean come on, a 70 year old is going to find private insurance, at what price, $100,000 per month? But don't analyze Ryans statements for truth and don't question his assertions, because He demands your obedience. The only reason Ryan left out accusations about Obama being Kenyan-born Muslim is because focus groups of independent voters found the accusations too fascist. And Ryan's famous townhalls came at a price, he didn't want poor people coming, so he charged per head. Want to see Ryan and talk with him as your representative, fork it out, BIG GOVT capitalism at work.

    September 23, 2012 07:59 am at 7:59 am |
  11. Jeff Stein

    We already have 'Death Panels'. They're called Insurance Companies.

    September 23, 2012 08:04 am at 8:04 am |
  12. yankeesfan

    He should start using Keynote

    September 23, 2012 08:09 am at 8:09 am |
  13. James Guay

    This is what I have been waiting to hear from both sides now I know who to vote for

    September 23, 2012 08:10 am at 8:10 am |
  14. Stryker

    Once again Romney-Ryan campaign is looking backwards. The United STates achieved moon landing 40+ years ago. We are looking beyond the moon. Russians are using an older technology to transport astronauts. We had a good stint with the SPace Shuttle for 25+ years that neither the Chinese nor the Russians have. No we haven't lost the Space Edge! And.. what about business sense? I thought Romney-Ryan is all about business and economic sense.. Space Shuttle is an expensive program. We are taking that money and investing on Mars Programs..

    September 23, 2012 08:16 am at 8:16 am |
  15. DocHollywood

    So Obama has single handedly destroyed the space program? How? By cutting funding? And what the republicans propose (fund cutting) is now BAD because democrats proposed it? LOL. And these guys say this with a straight face. Amazing.

    September 23, 2012 08:25 am at 8:25 am |
  16. don in albuquerque

    I'm all for sending Ryan and Romney to Uranus, just not Ur-White House.

    September 23, 2012 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  17. w l jones

    They predict the world will end sometime this years now will it happen no because it been around for hundred or trillion years and still going. The economy were not roboust durning wwll with most all the men in uniform what make one think it would be now.

    September 23, 2012 08:29 am at 8:29 am |
  18. vatoloke

    Oh no!!! Another PowerPoint presentation!!! Aaaaaarghhhh!!!!! I hate PowerPoint!!!
    We already got 'White Boarded' by Mittens!

    September 23, 2012 08:32 am at 8:32 am |
  19. Doug from Seattle

    I'm curious. Did his presentation also address income disparity, tax inequities, and restricting individual freedoms of choice (e.g., reproductive choices, marriage, religious doctrine above an individual's right to decide for themself)!!!

    September 23, 2012 08:33 am at 8:33 am |
  20. John

    Paul Ryan can make a graph to said anything he want, but other expert said other thing. Paul Ryan Is just trying to make you believe In all His LIE. Don't fall Into his trap.

    September 23, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  21. yoyoma

    The reason we have this "spike" is because of the republican's irresponsible tax policies. Policies that were supposed to cause a "trickle down" effect starting with Dubya. Didn't work Mr. Munster. Never has...Never will. The cons continue to con while the lower and middle classes continue to sink.

    September 23, 2012 08:35 am at 8:35 am |
  22. M

    Ok so why did he vote for dubya,s tax cut and 2 unfounded wars – he is as much the problem creater – and this was before Obama got in.

    September 23, 2012 08:38 am at 8:38 am |
  23. TheTraveler

    Paul Ryan is really something. To wit: "Today, if we want to send an astronaut to the space station, we have to pay the Russians to take him there. China may one day looking down on us from the moon," he continued, eliciting boos from the audience.

    We scrapped the shuttle program because it was getting old and it was expensive. We've focused our efforts on new technologies AND OPENED OUR SPACE PROGRAM TO PRIVATE INDUSTRY. This helps stimulate not only innovation, but jobs.

    I'm sure Ryan left that out of his presentation. How low can you go Paul?

    September 23, 2012 08:40 am at 8:40 am |
  24. SoAreU

    "Today, if we want to send an astronaut to the space station, we have to pay the Russians to take him there. <-CAUSE ITS CHEAPER! The GOP ticket says it would refocus NASA <- I don't think so... they have no clue how NASA is currently a lead agency for an undisclosed planetary force that supersedes everything important at this time in history. Again the GOP is out of touch.

    September 23, 2012 08:48 am at 8:48 am |
  25. cj

    "empower this board of 15 people that the president appoints – six-year terms, they can get renewed once – and the law says none of them have to have any medical training. And these 15 bureaucrats that President Obama appoints, their job each and every year is to cut Medicare payments to providers (not patients)." vs what we have now...thousands of insurance clerks who work for insurance companies with no medical training or education past high school denying medical coverage to patients both before, during and after treatment.

    September 23, 2012 08:50 am at 8:50 am |
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