Monday, August 27, 2012
Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXXI
By Steve Benen
Fri Aug 24, 2012 3:48 PM EDT
A collage of words used by fact-checkers to describe Romney's claims.
At a campaign event on Monday, a Republican voter asked Mitt Romney about falsehoods pushed by "leftists" and what he intended to do about it. The candidate replied, "It seems that the first victim of an Obama campaign is the truth."
As it turns out, the first victim is actually irony.
Michael Tomasky had a good piece this week, explaining what many have been reluctant to acknowledge: "The distinguishing fact of the Romney-Ryan campaign thus far is the extent to which it is built on outright lies in a desperate attempt to avoid honest debate at all costs." The GOP ticket, Tomasky argued, "lies as much as possible."
Just making stuff up about the other guy is bad enough. But it is in terms of past and future positions that what Romney-Ryan are doing really plows new and dishonorable earth. [...]
They know that the truth would crush them electorally. And so it follows that they know they must lie. They must lie about their Medicare plans. They must lie about the effects of their tax plans on average people and rich people. And they must tell a number of lies about Obama, all the better if they involve race, as the welfare lie does.
So this will be the entire point of the Romney-Ryan campaign. Lie lie lie. Muddy the waters. Turn day to night, fire to water, champagne to piss. Peddle themselves as the precise opposite of what they actually are. That is clearly the m.o.
It's always something of a relief when others notice this, but it's a dynamic much of the political world resists. Perhaps these stragglers could take a few moments to consider the 31st installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. (This week is the biggest list since I started the project in January.)
1. Referencing the money he gives to his church every year, Romney said, "This is done entirely privately. One of the downsides of releasing one's financial information is that this is now all public, but we had never intended our contributions to be known."
This is ridiculously untrue.
2. In an interview with Time magazine, Romney said of the recent Tax Policy Center analysis, "The basic foundation and premises of my plan are ... we don't reduce taxes or the share of taxes paid by the highest-income individuals. The highest-income individuals will get to pay the same share of taxes they pay today."
At a minimum, this is ridiculously misleading. Under Romney's plan, high-income people would get an enormous tax break.
3. In the same interview, Romney added, "I know that many in the modeling community do not want to assume growth with changes in tax policy. I do."
Actually, the Tax Policy Center, which Romney was criticizing, gave him the benefit of the doubt on growth assumptions, and found that his numbers still didn't add up.
4. On Twitter, Romney claimed President Obama "gutted bipartisan welfare reform by ending the work requirement."
He's blatantly lying.
5. Also on Twitter, Romney argued that the Affordable Care Act, "raises taxes on families making less than 120k. I will repeal it."
He's referring to an individual mandate that would apply to 1% of the population. And if President Obama's health care policy raised taxes on families making less than $120,000, thenRomney raised taxes on families making less than $120,000.
6. In a campaign ad, Romney says Obama is "raiding $716 billion from Medicare."
No, he's not.
7. The same ad accuses Obama of "taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers."
At a minimum, this is wildly misleading.
8. The ad concludes, "The Romney/Ryan plan will restore Medicare funding, and protect and strengthen the program for the next generation."
As it turns out, that's the polar opposite of the truth.
9. At a campaign event in Hobbs, New Mexico, Romney said, "Sometimes I have the impression that the whole regulatory attitude of the administration is trying to stop oil and gas and coal, that they don't want those sources."
In reality, coal production is up; we have more natural gas than we know what to do with; and oil production is up.
10. In the same speech, Romney said of Obama, "He's taken federal dollars, your money, to invest in companies -- solar companies, wind companies -- about $90 billion in so-called green jobs."
The details matter: much of the $90 billion was appropriated by George W. Bush, not Obama.
11. On welfare policy, the Romney campaign said this week that all the administration needs to do "is have HHS send out a hard letter making sure that the only things that will qualify under the work requirement is hard training and the cooperative programs with employers and define it in such a way that what was allowed before is all that's allowed in the future.... That's all that's required."
The administration already did this two months ago.
12. On the budget sequester, the Romney campaign argued this week, "It was the president who insisted on this makeup, this formula. Defense spending is not half of all federal spending, but it's half of the cuts approximately in the sequester. We disagreed with that then, disagree with it now.''
That's a lie. Democrats wanted the other half of the sequester to be tax increases. The defense cuts were proposed by House Republicans.
13. The Romney campaign also said it can create a "debt-free nation just like our parents."
For one thing, the Romney campaign isn't proposing to eliminate the debt, just the deficit. For another, I don't know how old most folks' parents are, but the U.S. has maintained a debt every year since 1836.
14. At a campaign event in Bettendorf, Iowa, Romney argued, "We've now had four years in a row with a president that's built trillion-dollar deficits."
That's not true. Obama inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit from Bush; it wasn't something the president "built."
15. In the same speech, Romney said, "Now, the president promised that he was going to cut the deficit in half. Yeah, it didn't happen, did it. He's more than doubled it."
Maybe Romney doesn't know what "double" means. The deficit on Obama's first day was $1.3 trillion. Last year, it was also $1.3 trillion. This year, it's projected to be $1.1 trillion. When he says the president "more than doubled" the deficit, as he has many times, Romney's lying.
16. Romney added, in reference to the president, "He's added almost as much debt held by the public, $5 trillion, as all the prior presidents of the country combined."
Romney has said this before. It's still a blatant lie.
17. Romney went on to say, "One out of six people's fallen into poverty under this president."
That only makes sense if we count Obama's first year in office, which relies on a standardRomney believes is fundamentally unfair.
18. Romney also said, "What [Obama] said was not a gaffe. It was not a slip of the tongue. What he said was his philosophy. He said that if you have a business you didn't build it, someone else did that."
That's not even close to being true.
19. Romney said his economic plan "creates 12 million jobs in four years."
If we do nothing, we're on track to create 12 million new American jobs over the next four years anyway.
20. At an event in Manchester, New Hampshire, Paul Ryan, standing alongside Romney, said, "Now, let's be very clear and fair. The president inherited a difficult situation, no two ways about that. Problem is, he made things worse."
That's a lie.
21. Ryan also said of Romney, "He took struggling businesses and turned them around -- an 80 percent success rate. That's astounding."
It may be astounding, but it's also not true.
22. At the same event, Ryan said, "Remember when the president said, when he came in office he would create jobs. Unemployment would never get above 8 percent."
Obama never said unemployment would never get above 8 percent.
23. Also in New Hampshire, Romney said of Paul Ryan, "This is a guy who's been able to work with good Democrats, find people who could look beyond partisanship, find common ground to get things done."
After seven terms in Congress, Paul Ryan has never found common ground with Democrats to pass a significant piece of legislation.
24. Romney added, in reference to the budget, "So what do I do? Well, first, you've got to end the deficit and then start accumulating, if you will, reserves and growing. That's what we did [in Massachusetts]."
Romney left his successor with a deficit.
25. Romney also vowed to "get rid of the deficit."
There's no reason to believe this is in any way true. 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.
26. Romney went on to say, "My test is this. I look at every program and say, is this so critical as a program it's worth borrowing money from China to pay for it?"
This continues to be 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.
27. In explaining his plans to balance the budget, Romney added, "We're going to get rid of some programs like Obamacare and some others."
The Affordable Care Act saves the country hundreds of billions of dollars. If Romney "gets rid of" it, the deficit goes up, not down.
28. Romney also said, "We can't go on the way we're going on, or we'll end up being Greece."
That's painfully untrue.
29. Romney went on to say, "I don't want to raise taxes on the American people."
He may not want to, but according to independent analyses, he's going to.
30. Romney also complained about Obama's tax plan, arguing., "When you raise taxes on small business from 35 percent to 40 percent, you will kill jobs."
Obama has repeatedly cut taxes on small businesses -- by some counts, 18 times -- and if given a second term, his tax plan would have no effect on 97% of small businesses.
31. On U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Romney said, "We haven't heard this president" explain "what's happening and why they're there, what the mission is, what its purpose is, how we'll know when it's completed."
That's the exact opposite of reality.
32. At the same event, again alongside Romney, Ryan said in reference to Israel, "When President Obama made the 1967 borders the precondition to the beginning of negotiations, it undercut our ally."
That's both dumb and dishonest.
33. Romney added, in reference to Iran, "We should make it very clear that we're going to put in place crippling sanctions."
We've already put in place crippling sanctions. How can a presidential candidate not know this?
34. In his inaugural weekly audio message, Romney claimed, the Affordable Care Act "put in place a board of 15 unelected bureaucrats and gave them the power to make additional cuts to Medicare without even having to get approval from Congress. This means they could deny elderly Americans the care they've worked for their entire lives -- all because President Obama trusts bureaucrats more than he trusts seniors and their doctors."
Romney's trying to describe the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), but he's doing so in a way that's completely dishonest.
35. In the same message, Romney said, "According to independent, non-partisan scorekeepers, these cuts the president's people will take to Medicare won't prevent it from going bankrupt."
The lying is just amazing. The independent, non-partisan scorekeepers said Obama's plan would strengthen Medicare's finances and extend its financial health, while Romney's plan would move the Medicare system closer to insolvency.
36. Touting his own agenda, Romney added, "I released a plan to save and strengthen Medicare -- without making any changes for those that are 55 years of age and older."
That's demonstrably wrong. Under Romney's policy, the cost of prescription drug prices and preventive care for seniors would go up immediately -- for current and future retirees.
37. And again in reference to Medicare, Romney said, "No president should put in jeopardy your benefits."
Romney's proposal cuts Medicare benefits.
Previous editions of Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity: Vol. I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII, VIII, IX, X, XI, XII,XIII, XIV, XV, XVI, XVII, XVIII, XIX, XX, XXI, XXII,XXIII, XXIV, XXV, XXVI, XXVII, XXVIII, XXIX, XXX