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U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, is poised to become the next Speaker of the House. (Getty photo) U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, is poised to become the next Speaker of the House. (Getty photo)

U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan, a Wisconsin Republican, is poised to become the next Speaker of the House. (Getty photo)

Tom Kertscher
By Tom Kertscher October 23, 2015

Paul Ryan’s ascendancy to speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, which now appears nearly certain to occur, is occasion for us to review his record on the Truth-O-Meter.

With his friend Gov. Scott Walker attracting much of the spotlight during Walker’s brief presidential run, Ryan hasn’t been fact checked much recently.

But that’s likely to change if the Janesville congressman’s fellow Republicans elect him speaker.

In the meantime, here’s a look at five Ryan-related fact checks.

Federal bailouts

Our most recent check was on a claim made about Ryan by RedState blogger Erick Erickson, who said Ryan "is one of less than a dozen Republican congressmen to have voted for every bailout to come before Congress."  

We rated Erickson’s statement Mostly False.

Ryan was one of 20 GOP House members who voted for the so-called TARP bailout of banks, and for a related auto industry bailout measure that did not become law, although he is only one of only five of those members who are still in the House.

On the other hand, Ryan voted against the bailout of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, government-sponsored enterprises that help increase the money available for home loans.

Medicare’s solvency

Ryan said Medicare is "going broke. The trust fund goes bankrupt in 2026."

Our rating was Mostly False.

In June 2014, when we rated the claim, the trust fund for Medicare Part A (primarily hospitals) was projected to be exhausted in 2026. But that didn’t mean the program would be bankrupt or stop operating.

Part A would continue to receive revenue and continue to operate, albeit at a reduced level, if Congress didn’t make any changes in Medicare. Meanwhile, there was no projection that the other parts of Medicare would run out of money.

"Deep" poverty

A March 2014 report released by the House Budget Committee, then chaired by Ryan, said that over the previous three years, "deep poverty has reached its highest level on record."

PolitiFact National rated the claim True.

Deep poverty refers to Americans making less than 50 percent of the poverty line. From 2010 to 2012, each year between 6.6 percent and 6.7 percent of Americans had incomes at that level -- a higher percentage than any year since the statistic was first calculated in 1975.

Beer abroad

During a September 2014 speech in Milwaukee, Ryan delved into the controversy surrounding inversions -- the practice of U.S.-based companies buying foreign firms and then relocating their own headquarters to another country to enjoy lower taxes.

And he referred to a beer company typically associated with Milwaukee and a brewer usually associated with St. Louis when he said: "Miller Brewing is not a U.S. company any more. Neither is Anheuser-Busch."

Our rating on that claim was True.

The parent company of Miller is in England and the parent company of Anheuser-Busch is in Belgium.

Political competitiveness

During the same speech, Ryan claimed that after redistricting in 2012, an effort that he led, Wisconsin had competitive congressional districts in terms of elections.

Our rating was Mostly False.

Redrawing the borders resulted in significant changes to the district represented by fellow GOP Rep. Sean Duffy, and smaller but important tweaks to the districts represented by Democratic Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse) and by Ryan himself. Each was redrawn in favor of the incumbent.

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Paul Ryan on the Truth-O-Meter