Skip to main content

CNN Fact Check: Ryan's rebuttal

By the CNN Wire Staff
Click to play
GOP responds to State of the Union
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A rising GOP star warns of "catastrophic" and swelling spending
  • Figures from the CBO appear to contradict his numbers

(CNN) -- The Republican Party's response to President Barack Obama's annual message to Congress was laced with dire warnings about presidential profligacy that would leave Americans with a "crushing burden of debt."

Rep. Paul Ryan, a rising GOP star, delivered the official rebuttal to the State of the Union speech. He warned that the United States faced "catastrophic levels" of red ink unless it reined in spending -- which he said had ballooned under the Obama administration.

"The facts are clear: Since taking office, President Obama has signed into law spending increases of nearly 25% for domestic government agencies, an 84% increase when you include the failed stimulus," Ryan said. "All of this new government spending was sold as 'investment.' Yet after two years, the unemployment rate remains above 9%, and government has added over $3 trillion to our debt."

Fact Check: Has U.S. domestic government spending nearly doubled under Obama?

Obama proposes spending freeze
30 years of deficit debate
RELATED TOPICS

-- Ryan doesn't cite any specific figures for his claim, but a quick look at figures from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office figures suggests the new chairman of the House Budget Committee is a bit off the mark. Nondefense outlays grew by 11.3% from 2008 to 2009, and 17.3% between 2009 and 2010, according to the CBO.

-- The 2010 total of $682 billion in nondefense outlays includes $95 billion from the stimulus, known as the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, while 2009's $581 billion included $31 billion in funding from the stimulus, according to the CBO. Without those figures, the CBO put the increase in domestic discretionary spending at 5.3% in 2009 and 6.7% in 2010.

-- It's true that the stimulus didn't deliver the results promised by the Obama administration in terms of lowering the unemployment rate. The administration predicted it would bring the jobless figure down to 7% by the end of 2010; instead, the current rate is 9.4%. But the CBO estimated that the spending programs funded by the Recovery Act had created or saved nearly 4.8 million jobs by the middle of the year.

Bottom line:

Ryan's numbers don't square with the projections of the nonpartisan CBO. It was not immediately clear where they originated.

CNN's Matt Smith and Katie Glaeser contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
Did Obama get his message across?
President Obama delivered a 61-minute State of the Union address with a new theme -- putting his emphasis on investing in making America's economy more competitive in a challenging world.
Similar State of the Union themes
Different presidents stress common themes with their State of the Union addresses.
Obama outlines plan to 'win the future'
Sounding a theme of unity, President Obama called for investment in education and clean energy and a freeze in some spending.
What's a 'Sputnik' moment?
President Obama said this generation's "Sputnik moment" has arrived, but what exactly did he mean?
State of the Union trivia
Here are a few facts about the president's annual address to Congress that probably won't show up in the headlines.
Quiz: State of the Union knowledge
President Obama's speech will be the nation's 222nd annual address. How much do you know about the previous speeches?
How State of the Union became a prom
Donna Brazile says it's a good sign that members of Congress are looking across the aisle for seatmates from the opposing party.
Notable messages from Lincoln to Bush
The tradition of the State of the Union address dates to 1790. Here are some of the messages in history.