Monday, September 3, 2012
Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity, Vol. XXXII
By Steve Benen
Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:40 PM EDT
Jon Chait noted the other day that Mitt Romney "has built his entire campaign on, well, lies." Jon made the observation in passing, but it struck me as significant, especially as the Republican National Convention unfolded -- Romney isn't the first national politician to try to deceive the public, but he's arguably the first to build his entire campaign around the deceptions.
Kevin Drum was thinking along the same lines responding to Romney's lie on welfare policy, which the candidate has vowed to continue repeating, even after it's been proven false.
In the past, you felt that maybe campaigns were at least a little bit embarrassed about this kind of thing. They'd blame it on someone else. They'd try to produce some lame defense. They'd haul out some fake white paper to give themselves cover. They'd do something. The Romney campaign just doesn't seem to care. If it works, they use it. It's like the campaign is being run by cyborgs.
Thomas Mann, a longtime political scholar at the center-left Brookings Institution and a respected Beltway voice, added, "The Romney campaign has, as is strikingly evident at the Tampa convention, broken new ground in its brazen and cynical disregard for the truth."
Love Romney or hate him, it's an experiment of sorts -- we're seeing the first real-world test of a post-truth campaign. Team Romney lies, without shame, because it's certain the line between fact and fiction has been blurred out of existence, and if lies will give Romney vast power, the ends justify the means.
But for those who still like to think reality has some meaning, I hope they'll take some time to consider the 32nd installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity. (For the record, this week, I'm only including falsehoods from Romney himself. Including every lie told at the convention would have caused a mendacity overdose.)
1. In Romney's acceptance speech last night, he said, "Four years ago, I know that many Americans felt a fresh excitement about the possibilities of a new president. That president was not the choice of our party but Americans always come together after elections."
Actually, congressional Republicans decided early on that they would refuse to come together and work with President Obama, no matter what he offered in terms of policies. This began before Inauguration Day, when GOP leaders decided they simply would not cooperate or compromise with Democrats.
2. Romney added that Obama "took office without the basic qualification that most Americans have and one that was essential to his task. He had almost no experience working in a business."
First, the president has experience working in business. Second, lots of successful presidents didn't come from the private sector (and lots of lousy presidents were businessmen). And third, it's obvious that Romney doesn't believe his own rhetoric, because if he did, he wouldn't have picked Paul Ryan as his running mate -- Ryan has far less private-sector experience than Obama.
3. Romney went on to say, "[T]he centerpiece of the President's entire re-election campaign is attacking success."
For one thing, Romney has never been able to point to a single instance in which Obama has attacked success. For another, we're having a hell of a lot more success now than we were four years ago.
4. Romney added, "[T]his president cannot tell us that you are better off today than when he took office."
Of course he can. I'm not sure who Romney is referring to you with "you," but for Americans, economic growth, job creation, the stock market, the auto industry, the deficit, and the manufacturing sector are all better off now than in January 2009.
5. Romney complained, "[G]asoline prices have doubled."
To call this comically misleading would be an understatement.
6. Romney went on to claim, "Today more Americans wake up in poverty than ever before."
That's insane. The percentage of Americans in poverty is high, but it's been much higher many times.
7. Referencing Obama, Romney said, "His policies have not helped create jobs."
It's not a matter of opinion, it's a matter of fact: Obama has helped create more jobs -- over 4.4 million of them in the private sector. Independent economists agree that the Recovery Act was crucial to improving U.S. job creation.
8. Again in reference to the president, Romney argued, "His plan to raise taxes on small business won't add jobs, it will eliminate them."
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.
9. Romney added, "His trillion dollar cuts to our military will eliminate hundreds of thousands of jobs, and also put our security at greater risk;"
Romney's not only lying, he's also condemning defense cuts crafted by his own party and endorsed by his own running mate.
10. Romney went on to argue, "His $716 billion cut to Medicare to finance Obamacare will both hurt today's seniors, and depress innovation -- and jobs -- in medicine."
11. Romney said "unlike the president," he has a jobs plan.
Romney doesn't have to like the American Jobs Act, but he shouldn't get away with brazenly lying about its existence.
12. Romney added that his jobs plan would "create 12 million new jobs."
As it turns out, if we do nothing, we're on track to create 12 million new American jobs over the next four years anyway.
13. Romney argued, "[L]et me make this very clear -- unlike President Obama, I will not raise taxes on the middle class."
That's actually two lies in one. First, Obama approved one of the largest middle-class tax cuts in American history. (Note to Romney: cutting taxes and raising taxes are not the same thing.) Second, there's ample evidence that Romney will raise taxes on the middle class.
14. Romney said President Obama began his presidency "with an apology tour."
When the book is written on the biggest lies of the Romney campaign, this will be chapter one.
15. Romney went on to say, "President Obama has thrown allies like Israel under the bus."
Officials in Israel say the opposite is true.
16. Romney added, "He abandoned our friends in Poland by walking away from our missile defense commitments."
Officials in Eastern Europe say this claim isn't true.
17. Romney asked, "Does the America we want borrow a trillion dollars from China?"
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.
18. In an interview with Fox News, asked about "putting back" that $716 billion in savings, Romney said, "Restoring that money to Medicare does not make it less solvent, it makes it more solvent."
Romney is either profoundly ignorant about the basics of how Medicare works, or he's blatantly lying.
19. Romney complained "the president accuses me of being a felon."
The president never said that. A campaign aide said it may be a felony that Romney's SEC filings are inconsistent with Romney's public claims about his Bain work.
20. Romney also whined, "They have a PAC which says that I'm responsible for someone's death and he won't distance himself from that."
First, the PAC is a separate entity from the president's campaign. Second, Obama did distance himself from the allegation. In fact, he specifically told a briefing room full of reporters, "I don't think that Governor Romney is somehow responsible for the death of the woman that was portrayed in that ad. But keep in mind this is an ad that I didn't approve, I did not produce, and as far as I can tell, has barely run."
21. Romney went on to say, "I think Planned Parenthood, given the fact that it's a major provider of abortions, shouldn't be receiving federal funding."
That's wildly misleading. The law already prevents Planned Parenthood from using public funds to terminate pregnancies.
22. In his latest weekly audio message, Romney said the president "won't even try" to create jobs "anymore."
In reality, Obama has pleaded with Congress to act, and continues to call for action on Capitol Hill. Republicans refuse.
23. At a campaign event in Powell, Ohio, Romney said Obama made "difficult" economic conditions "worse."
That's just crazy.
24. Referencing his one term as governor, Romney boasted, "I was able to get unemployment down to 4.7 percent."
Actually, the unemployment rate in Massachusetts dropped because so many people dropped out of the state's workforce. In reality, Massachusetts' job creation record during Romney's term was "one of the worst in the country," ranking 47th out of 50 states.
25. In the same speech, Romney said the U.S. has "the highest taxes in the world on corporations."
American corporations do not pay the highest tax rates in the world.
26. Romney also said, "[W]e're at a 30-year low in this country for new business startups."
Still not true.
27. Romney added, "[T]he president's vision ... takes us down a road to Europe."
The irony is, Europe is trying to grow through austerity, just as Romney intends to do here. He's lying in a self-refuting sort of way.
28. At a campaign event in Commerce, Michigan, Romney once again said Obama argued "if you have a business you didn't build it, someone else did that."
That's not even close to being true.
29. At the same event, Romney promised, "I'm going to work very hard to finally get America to a balanced budget by cutting the deficit and getting it to zero."
No, actually he's not. 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.
30. In the same breath, Romney said Paul Ryan's budget has "shown the courage to actually" balance the budget.
Paul Ryan's budget doesn't balance the budget. It's a fraudulent document, featuring numbers that don't add up.