A joke made the rounds this week, which resonated with me. It goes like this: a man dies, goes to heaven, stands before St. Peter, and see a huge wall of clocks. The man asks what all the clocks are for and St. Peter explains, “These are lie clocks. Everyone on earth has a lie clock. Every time a person lies, the clock hands move.”
Pointing to one, the man says, “Whose clock is that?”
“That’s Mother Teresa’s,” St. Peter answers. “The hands have never moved, indicating she never told a lie.”
“Incredible,” the man responds. “And whose clock is that?”
St. Peter responds, “That’s Abraham Lincoln’s. The hands moved twice telling us he told two lies in his entire life.”
“Where is Mitt Romney’s clock?” the man asks.
“Romney’s clock is in Jesus’ office,” St. Peter says. “He’s using it as a ceiling fan.”
It’s obviously just a joke, but it reinforces an increasingly common observation about Romney’s casual relationship with the truth. Consider, for example, the 40th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt’s mendacity.
1. At an event in Defiance, Ohio, last night, Romney told voters, “I saw a story today, that one of the great manufacturers in this state, Jeep, now owned by the Italians, is thinking of moving all production to China.”
Even by Romney standards, this was a rather brazen falsehood.
2. At a campaign event in Reno, Nevada, Romney said President Obama has been “unable to communicate an agenda” for a second term.
The day before, Obama published a 20-page agenda for a second term.
3. At the same event, Romney said, “The idea that the president would cut Medicare for current seniors … is something which I don’t think the American people understand.”
The notion that Obama is cutting Medicare for current seniors is ridiculously untrue. Indeed, Obama is expanding benefits, not cutting them.
4. Romney added, “I will get America to finally be on track to a balanced budget.”
No he won’t. Romney’s plan slashes tax rates (which makes the deficit worse, not better), increases defense and entitlement spending (which makes the deficit worse, not better), and every independent analysis reaches the same conclusion: Romney’s numbers don’t add up.
5. Romney also argued, “If I’m elected – when I’m elected – we’re going to finally get this housing market going.”
The housing market is currently seeing its strongest gains in several years. Romney, meanwhile, has said he intends to deliberately avoid any efforts to curtail foreclosures.
6. Romney said, “Under President Obama, you really don’t have 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.
7. Romney went on to say, “Paul Ryan and I have a plan with five simple steps. These steps are going to get America’s economy just cooking again.”
The five-point plan – oil drilling, trade, privatizing K-12 education, vague assertions about debt reduction, and ambiguous promises about doing nice things for small businesses – is a rehash of Bush/Cheney promises. No credible analysis of the vague agenda has found it capable of boosting the economy.
8. At a campaign event in Henderson, Nevada, Romney blamed Obama for the “doubling of the gasoline prices you’re paying.”
This is wildly misleading. It’s true that when Obama took office, gas cost about $1.81 a gallon, and it’s more than double now. And how did gas prices get so low in late 2008 and early 2009? Because there was a global economic catastrophe – gas was cheap because the economy had fallen off a cliff, and demand crawled to a stop. As the economy improved, demand went up, and the price of gas started climbing. It’s Economics 101.
9. At the same event, Romney said, ” We’re gonna crack down on cheaters when they steal our jobs through unfair trade practices like China, we’ll crack down. He has not.”
10. In a television ad debuted this week, Romney says a second Obama term would mean “the debt will grow from $16 trillion to $20 trillion.”
If Romney’s elected and the Ryan budget plan is implemented, the debt will grow from $16 trillion to $20 trillion.
11. In the same ad, Romney adds that if there’s a second Obama term “20 million Americans could lose their employer-based health care.”
No. Millions may get different insurance, but they’ll have better and more secure coverage, not nothing. By Romney’s reasoning, if you replace your old, unreliable car with a new one, you’ve lost your car.
12. Also in the ad, Romney says in a second term for the president, “taxes on the middle class will go up by $4,000.”
13. In the same ad, Romney whines about “$716 billion in Medicare cuts that hurt current seniors.”
This is deeply silly. Obama strengthened the Medicare system’s finances by reducing payments to insurance companies and hospitals. Benefits for seniors have been expanded, not cut.
14. In this week’s debate in Boca, Romney argued, “Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.”
Iran doesn’t share a border with Syria, and Iran already borders two bodies of water.
15. Romney also said, “We need to have strong allies. Our association and connection with our allies is essential to America’s strength. We’re the great nation that has 42 allies and friends around the world.”
The United States has more than 42 allies and friends around the world.
16. Romney argued, “When the students took to the streets in Tehran and the people there protested, the Green Revolution occurred. For the president to be silent I thought was an enormous mistake.”
Obama wasn’t silent, and the comment continues to reinforce suspicions that Romney is incapable of thinking strategically when it comes to foreign policy.
17. Romney also said, “The president said by now we’d be at 5.4 percent unemployment.”
That’s a favorite GOP talking point, but the president never said this.
18. “As a matter of fact, Latin America’s economy is almost as big as the economy of China.”
As a matter of fact, that’s really not true.
19. Reflecting on his education record, Romney boasted, “While I was governor, I was proud that our fourth graders came out number one of all 50 states in English and then also in math, and our eighth graders number one in English and also in math – first time one state had been number one in all four measures. How did we do that? Well, Republicans and Democrats came together on a bipartisan basis to put in place education that focused on having great teachers in the classroom.”
At a minimum, this is wildly misleading. It’s true that policymakers from both parties instituted effective education reforms that improved Massachusetts schools, but this was done many years before Romney took office.
20. Romney argued, “Come on our website, you’ll look at how we get to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years.”
Aside from some vague platitudes, there is no balanced-budget plan on Romney’s website. There’s a good reason for that – his numbers don’t add up.
21. Romney went on to say, “We [balance the budget] by getting, by reducing spending in a whole series of programs. By the way, number one I get rid of is Obamacare. There are a number of things that sound good but, frankly, we just can’t afford them.”
This is incoherent and absurd. “Obamacare” cuts the deficit to the tune of about $109 billion over the next decade. It’s simply incoherent to say you’ll cut the deficit by eliminating a law, which would in turn increase the deficit. That’s like promising to put out a fire by using more kerosene.
22. Romney argued, “I was in the world of business for 25 years. If you didn’t balance your budget, you went out of business.”
That’s both untrue and ridiculous. Businesses operate in the red all the time, and take out loans for capital improvements, expansions, acquisitions, etc. If Romney’s background is in the private sector, how could he not know this?
23. Romney also said, “I went to the Olympics that was out of balance, and we got it on balance.”
In context, Romney made it sound as if he balanced the Olympics’ books through skill. In reality, he balanced his budget at the Olympics thanks to a massive taxpayer bailout, the largest in U.S. history for any Olympic games.
24. Romney argued, “Our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917.”
25. Romney added, “[T]he president began what I’ve called an apology tour.”
This is what I’ve called Romney lying.
26. Romney also said, “[T]he president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel.”
There’s simply no record of Obama ever saying that or anything like it.
27. Romney argued, “I look around the world, I don’t see our influence growing around the world.”
There’s ample evidence that respect and support for the United States around the world has improved under Obama.
28. Romney added, “Is al Qaeda on the run, on its heels? No.”
29. Romney complained about “our decision to cut back on our military capabilities – a trillion dollars.”
Romney appears to be referring to cuts, which have not yet kicked in, and which were crafted, not by the White House, but by Romney’s own party. They were also endorsed and supported by his own running mate.
30. In reference to the rescue of the American auto industry, Romney argued, “I said they need, these companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy, and in that process they can get government help and government guarantees.”
That is absolutely not what he said.
31. Romney went on to say, “I want to invest in research. Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tank, great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not. That’s the wrong way to go.”
We know Romney doesn’t mean this because, as governor, he invested in companies all the time.
32. Romney added we’re “heading towards Greece.”
For those who have even a passing familiarity with the Greek crisis, this is painfully untrue.
33. Romney argued, “I’ll get people back to work with 12 million new jobs.”
Putting aside the pesky detail that Romney doesn’t actually have a specific jobs plan, the claim about 12 million jobs has been definitely proven fraudulent. His own economic advisor was forced to concede the candidate’s – and the campaign’s – talking point was based on a falsehood.
34. Romney also said, “I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle.”
35. At a campaign event in Daytona Beach, Florida, Romney promised, “If I am elected, we’re going to reduce taxes on middle income Americans.”
There’s ample reason to believe the exact opposite – independent budget analysts have concluded that once Romney slashes taxes on the wealthy, increases defense spending, increases entitlement spending, and cuts corporate tax rates, all while promising to balance the budget, he’ll have no choice but to ask more from the middle class. Indeed, there’s no other way for Romney to keep his other promises.
36. “Look, the president wants to fundamentally transform America. He’s making us more and more like Europe. I don’t want to become 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.
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, XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII, XXXIV, XXXV, XXXVI, XXXVII, XXXVIII, XXXIX