While President Obama quizzically looked on during tonight’s debate, a jittery and aggressive Mitt Romney (over caffeinated perhaps after his sleepless night?) tried, once again, to say little of substance about his own proposals while hectoring the President noisily and at length. Remember when you were a kid and your mother told you to slow down and give somebody else a chance to talk? Well, Mitt needed a few words from Mother tonight.
There were so many questionable assertions in Mitt’s barrage of words that taking issue with them all would have been impossible during the debate. Fortunately, there are reputable folks who were live-blogging a fact-check during Romney’s effort to shout down both the President and the poor moderator, Gentleman Jim Lehrer. It strikes me that it may be useful to to list a few of more overt fibs that they called Romney on.
The big stuff I’m sure we all caught – Romney’s come out in favor of privatizing Social Security last summer whenever it was convenient, but tonight he’s thinks it’s just fine – that kind of thing. But old Mitt was playing fast and loose, at such high speed, that lots of the guff he was shoveling could easily be allowed to go unchallenged. If you are interested, or want to compare my list with yours, check below the fold.
Ezra Klein’s Wonkblog provided a running commentary with context for the facts and figures cited by the two candidates. The bloggers identified the following especially egregious Romney misstatements which I have paraphrased below – you can get the details over at Wonkblog:
–None of the cuts to income tax deductions that Romney described would raise the $500 billion/yr necessary to ensure revenue neutrality.
–Romney touted a “lengthy description” of his health-care plan on his Website. It’s only 369 words (I write more in a casual SMP posting!) and does not, as he repeatedly said, cover pre-existing conditions. Let me repeat that – the most overt lie of the evening: Mitt Romney’s plan, to which he specifically referred, does not cover pre-existing conditions.
–The McKinsey study that Romney cited to support his contention that companies would drop coverage because of Obamacare is an outlier that is contradicted by other, more recent studies.
–Romney mentioned a study that claims Obama will raise taxes by $3-4,000. That amount is the tax equivalent of servicing the debt under Obama’s budget. It ignores the consequences of Obama’s proposals to cut the debt via a mix of spending cuts and raising taxes for high earners.
–Contrary to Romney’s claims, 23 million Americans are not “out of work.” The Bureau of Labor Statistics counts 12.5 million unemployed Americans along with 2.6 million Americans who are not in the labor force but want work. You get 23 million only by adding in 8 million Americans who are working part-time right now.
–Romney consistently denied that his tax cuts would cost $5 trillion as the president claimed. This is not true. Economists have shown that his tax cuts would depress revenue by $5 trillion if he doesn’t find a way to pay for them. Romney says he plans to pay for them by eliminating tax breaks and credits, but won’t name specific breaks. Obama, correctly, noted that his tax promises don’t add up.
–Romney claims that though he wants to lower tax rates for the rich, he won’t cut their taxes. The Tax Policy Center’s analysis found that Romney’s proposals would result in people who make more than $1 million a year saving an average of $87,117 in taxes.
–Romney claims that 50% of the 90 billion investments in green energy jobs were failures. It is true that $90 billion was allocated for green energy, but much of that sum was dedicated infrastructure, energy efficiency initiatives, and clean-energy research funding. Of the loans to clean-energy producers, only 1.4% of the recipients failed. (And Romney should he forced to substantiate his claim that significant amounts of the money went to Obama donors – along with the implication that it was a quid pro quo.) What a jerk!
Think Progress was also able to quickly draw on the site’s past research to rebut numerous Romney claims: Many of them we are familiar with , but several were less well known:
–Romney took credit for Massachusetts’ excellent educational system although his own contributions to the state’s educational programs were minimal or outright failures.
–Romney denied President Obama’s contention that he had said we need fewer teachers. Romney’s on the record, however, saying that we not only need fewer teachers, but firemen and policemen as well.
–Romney noted that he didn’t raise taxes in Massachusetts to pay for Romneycare. That, however is only because he received federal subsidies to do so.
— The Dodd-Frank financial regulatory bill, while weaker that it should be (thanks, GOP!) does not, as Romney claimed, specify some banks as “too big to fail.” It strictly regulates larger banks and, via the so-called resolution authority, it protects tax payers from future bailouts of the big banks. The resolution authority is, wouldn’t you know, a provision that that Romney’s VP pick, Paul Ryan, has tried to repeal.
— Hiring has not, as Romney asserted, slowed as a result of regulation.
–Romney promises to create 3 million jobs a year. According to the Economic Policy Institute, as a result of the spending cuts it proposes, his economic plan would “lead to employment losses of 608,000 in 2013 and roughly 1.3 million in 2014,”
–Romney claims that there are no tax breaks for taking jobs overseas. Just. Plain. False. Think Progress lays out the specific breaks here.