An argument divided against itself cannot stand

Updated
 
Romney once told a fib this big.
Romney once told a fib this big.
Associated Press

It’s not surprising that Mitt Romney’s campaign was unimpressed with the new White House budget plan. What was surprising was how the campaign chose to express that dissatisfaction.

Here’s a statement Team Romney sent to reporters yesterday morning:

“This week, President Obama will release a budget that won’t take any meaningful steps toward solving our entitlement crisis. The president has failed to offer a single serious idea to save Social Security and is the only president in modern history to cut Medicare benefits for seniors.”

Notice, there are no ellipses between the sentences. As Paul Krugman noted, “Yep, Obama has failed to resolve the problem of excessive entitlement spending; furthermore, he’s cutting entitlement spending!”

And while the contradiction made the campaign’s statement amusing, there are a couple of other angles to keep in mind.

First, when Romney claims Obama “cut Medicare benefits,” he’s not telling the truth. As has been explained many times before, the Medicare savings in the Affordable Care Act come from slowing projected growth in the future. The money comes from health-care providers, not Medicare beneficiaries, and no one’s benefits have been cut at all.

Either Romney doesn’t understand these details, or he understands them perfectly and he’s trying to mislead.

Second, it’s ironic for Romney to bring up entitlements anyway. He has, after all, endorsed privatization plans for Social Security, while also offering his enthusiastic endorsement of Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which ends Medicare altogether and replaces it with a voucher scheme.

Taken together, over the course of just two sentences, Romney contradicted his own talking points, lied about the Affordable Care Act, and engaged in some remarkable hypocrisy, accusing Obama of doing what Romney himself intends to do.

That’s pretty impressive for one paragraph.

An argument divided against itself cannot stand

Updated