After more than six months of marveling at Mitt Romney's propensity for falsehoods, I have to admit it was unsettling to see his campaign's new attack ad, launched yesterday. The spot accuses President Obama of making "untrue" claims about Romney shipping jobs overseas -- Obama's claims are actually quite credible -- and concludes that the president is running a "dishonest campaign."
Think about that for a moment. The candidate whose entire campaign has been built on one falsehood after another, the candidate whose dishonesty is routinely characterized as "almost pathological," the candidate whose near-constant lying puts him in a league of his own among modern politicians, is complaining that his rival is taking liberties with the facts.
There's dishonesty in politics, and then there's meta-dishonesty in politics.
Romney's spokesperson this week declared, "America deserves ... a president who's willing to tell the truth." That seems more than fair. Perhaps the Romney camp can reevaluate that demand after reading the 25th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity.
1. In an interview with Fox Business Network's Neil Cavuto, Romney insisted, "Obamacare is killing jobs."
There is literally no evidence to support this claim in any way.
2. In the same interview, Romney, asked about his tax returns, said, "We have of course released all of the financial statements that are required by law and then released two years of tax returns."
Actually, he's only released his tax returns for one full year. Two years wouldn't be enough, but it'd be an improvement.
3. Romney also told Cavuto, of the existing disclosure, "So tax information is there and other financial disclosure is there."
I wish that were true, but the whole point of the recent controversy is that "other financial disclosure" isn't there. We learned about his shell corporation in Bermuda based on one year's tax returns, but we don't know what other disclosures exist because Romney has kept previous returns hidden from the public.
4. Also on Fox Business, Romney said his tax disclosures include "the same information" John Kerry released during his 2004 campaign.
That's plainly false. During his presidential run eight years ago, Kerry released five years of tax returns, and during his Senate campaigns, made a habit of releasing several years' worth of tax documents as part of a commitment to disclosure.
5. Criticizing President Obama's tax-cut plan, Romney said the proposal constitutes "a massive tax increase."
Well, that's obviously a subjective matter, but in reality, 98% of Americans would get a tax cut under the plan. [Update: Commenter VeryVerySad reminds of an important point: 100% of Americans would get a tax cut, but 2% of Americans would pay slightly more on income above $250,000.]
6. Attacking the same plan, Romney said the White House plan "is the sort of thing only an extreme liberal could come up with."
"Extreme liberals" aren't the only people who can think of middle-class tax cut, and there's really nothing "extreme" at all about the president's proposal.
7. At a town-hall meeting in Grand Junction, Colorado, Romney claimed Obama is "putting money into energy companies, solar and wind energy companies that end up making their products outside the United States."
Every aspect to this claim is patently untrue.
8. At the same event, Romney claimed, "This president has increased the rate of new major regulations by about threefold over his predecessor."
That's false. Obama approved fewer regulations in his first three years in office than Bush did in his first three years.
9. Romney added, "I'm going to look at all the programs we have in government and ask this question: Is this program so critical to America that it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?"
At a minimum, that's misleading. The implication here is that U.S. debt is financed by the Chinese, but this isn't true -- China only holds about 8% of the nation's debt.
10. Romney went on to say he's "going to get rid of ObamaCare" so the government won't have to borrow more money.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, the Affordable Care Act will save over $100 billion over the next decade, and over $1 trillion in the decade after that. Romney has it backwards -- we would need to borrow more money if he does "get rid of Obamacare."
11. He added that "dreams are being crushed when taxes go up and up and up on job creators."
Taxes haven't gone up; they've gone down. In fact, Americans' federal tax burden has down and down and down, reaching a 30-year low after Obama cut taxes in 2009.
12. At the same event, Romney said the Affordable Care Act "cuts Medicare by $500 billion."
Romney says this a lot. He's not telling the truth.
13. He also said "no, no, no" to the notion that he would "cut" Medicare.
Romney endorsed Paul Ryan's House Republican Budget plan, which ends the Medicare program and replaces it with a private voucher scheme.
14. In response to a question about the tax code, Romney argued, "For me ... this campaign is about the middle class, and about the poor. It's not about the rich. The rich are going to do fine, whosever elected."
First, Romney intends to give the wealthy a massive tax cut (while they keep their existing massive tax cut). Second, Romney said in February he's "not concerned about the very poor."
15. In his speech to the NAACP, Romney went off-script and said, "You know, there was a survey of the Chamber of Commerce. They carried out a survey of their members, about 1,500 surveyed. And they asked him what effect Obama care would have on their plans and three-quarters of them said it would make them less likely to hire people."
That's not what happened. The Chamber, a pro-Republican lobbying institution heavily invested in helping Romney, put up an unscientific online survey. Treating this as a legitimate poll of businesses is fundamentally dishonest.
16. Responding to an interview the president did with CBS, Romney argued, "President Obama believes that millions of Americans have lost their homes, their jobs and their livelihood because he failed to tell a good story."
Based on what Obama actually said, there is no universe in which that makes any sense at all.
17. Romney's campaign claimed that health care premiums "are $4,893 higher per family than President Obama promised" in 2008.
The claim is both deeply foolish and completely untrue.
18. In a speech in New Hampshire, responding to the new jobs report, Romney complained, "The highest corporate tax rates in the world do not create jobs."
American corporations do not pay the highest tax rates in the world.
19. Describing economic policies that would improve matters, Romney added, "Opening up new markets in Latin America. The president hasn't done that in three and a half years -- no new trade agreements."
I don't know why Romney keeps telling this lie, but he does.
20. In the same speech, Romney added, "Failing to effectively crack down on China for cheating and stealing American jobs -- that has not helped."
Obama has already cracked down on China in ways Romney doesn't seem to understand.
21. Romney went on to say, "The president's policies have not gotten America working again."
22. Asked about his lack of specific ideas on the economy, Romney argued, "I don't think I've seen any from the president that -- that show what he's planning on doing."
Romney doesn't have to like the American Jobs Act, but he shouldn't get away with brazenly lying about its existence.
23. In response to a reporter's question about health care, Romney said, "You know, I've spoken about health care from the day we passed it in -- in Massachusetts and people said, is this something that you'd apply at the federal level? And I said no."
He's clearly not telling the truth.
24. Commenting on his plans to eliminate the deficit, Romney argued, "What I describe in my plan is a series of changes to programs and elimination of programs which save more and more money over time, so we're able to get America to a balanced budget in eight to 10 years -- not in the first year, but eight to 10 years."
There's overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Romney says his plan "can't be scored," but independent budget analysts have found his agenda would make the deficit bigger, not smaller, and add trillions to the national debt.
25. At a fundraiser in Montana, Romney told supporters, "The great majority of small business -- 54% of American workers work in businesses taxed as individuals. So when the president wants to raise taxes on individuals as he's proposed from 35% to 40%, he kills jobs. If your priority is crushing people, vote for him."
Only about 3% of American small businesses would be affected by the higher rate, and there is literally no evidence to suggest Clinton-era top rates on the wealthy "kills jobs."
In conclusion, Jay Rosen argued yesterday that Romney and his team appear to be running a "post-truth" campaign, working under the assumption that the media isn't equipped to report the lies. It's a story that's "too big to tell."
It's a fair point, and with just 115 days until the election, it's a dynamic well worth watching.