President Obama and his campaign team have been increasingly assertive of late in accusing Mitt Romney of dishonesty, but the president is still cautious in how he makes the charge.
In this week’s debate, for example, Obama was willing to go so far as to say, “Not true, governor,” when the president heard something obviously false. The problem, of course, is that the Republican challenger strayed from the truth with unfortunate frequency – leading Obama to repeat the words “not true” a half-dozen times.
I suspect the president was probably annoyed, both with Romney’s dishonesty and with the challenge of coming up with alternative ways to let the audience know the Republican was repeating falsehoods. I know the feeling – this is, after all, the 39th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt’s mendacity.
1. At a speech in Chesapeake, Virginia, Romney boasted, “If I become president … we finally get America on track to a balanced budget.”
No we don’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.
2. In the same speech, Romney said Obama only filed “one” action “against China.”
That’s not even close to being true.
3. In this week’s town-hall debate, Romney claimed, “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program so that people are able to afford school.”
4. Romney also argued, “We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office.”
No matter when we start the clock, there’s a net jobs increase under Obama, both overall and in the private sector.
5. Romney added, “If the unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took office. It’s 7.8 percent now. But if you calculated that unemployment rate taking back the people who dropped out of the workforce, it would be 10.7 percent.”
That’s ridiculously untrue.
6. Romney also said, “I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay.”
This claim was definitely proven false this week. Repeating it only adds insult to injury.
7. On the rescue of the auto industry, Romney said in reference to the president, “[H]e keeps saying, ‘You wanted to take Detroit bankrupt.’ Well, the president took Detroit bankrupt. You took General Motors bankrupt. You took Chrysler bankrupt. So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did…. That was precisely what I recommend and ultimately what happened.”
Romney can take credit for Obama’s policy, or he can condemn Obama’s policy, but to do both is obviously dishonest (and more than a little ridiculous).
8. Romney argued, “As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production is down 9 percent.”
Nice try, but no.
9. Romney added, “Coal production is not up.”
10. Romney added, “Coal jobs are not up.”
11. Romney also told the president, “In the last four years, you cut permits and licenses on federal land and federal waters in half.”
That’s not quite right.
12. Romney went on to say, “[T]he proof of whether a strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then the strategy is working. But you’re paying more.”
13. Romney also argued, “I don’t have a policy of, of stopping wind jobs in Iowa.”
Actually, he does, much to the chagrin of his own Republican allies in Iowa.
14. On taxes, Romney said, “The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So that’ll stay the same.”
With rhetoric like this, Romney is playing a deeply deceptive game, and playing voters for fools.
15. Romney added, “Middle-income people are going to get a tax break.”
There’s ample reason to believe the exact opposite.
16. Romney also argued, “A recent study has shown that people in the middle class will see $4,000 a year higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.”
It takes some policy acrobatics to get to this claim, and it’s still not true.
17. Romney said, “We can get this economy going again. My five-point plan does it.”
18. Asked about the hard-to-believe numbers in his economic plan, Romney insisted, “Well, of course they add up.”
19. In reference to the budget deficit, Romney said of Obama, “he’s doubled it.”
Romney is still having trouble with the definition of “double.” The deficit on Obama’s first day was $1.3 trillion. Last year, it was also $1.3 trillion. This year, it’s $1.08 trillion. When he says the president “doubled” the deficit, as he has many times, Romney’s lying.
20. Romney boasted, “I ran the Olympics and balanced the budget.”
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 taxpayer bailout.
21. In the next breath, Romney said, “I ran the state of Massachusetts as a governor, to the extent any governor does, and balanced the budget all four years.”
Actually, in Massachusetts, Romney left his successor with a deficit.
22. Romney went on to say, “If the president were re-elected, we’d go to almost $20 trillion of national debt. This puts us on a road to Greece.”
For those who have even a passing familiarity with the Greek crisis, this is painfully untrue.
23. In an unfortunate moment, Romney claimed, “I had the chance to pull together a Cabinet and all the applicants seemed to be men. And I went to my staff, and I said, how come all the people for these jobs are all men? They said, well, these are the people that have the qualifications. And I said, well, gosh, can’t we find some women that are also qualified? And so we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet.”
24. Romney argued, “In the last four years, women have lost 580,000 jobs. That’s the net of what’s happened in the last four years. We’re still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 3 1/2 million women more now in poverty than four years ago.”
This is absurdly untrue.
25. Romney said, “I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not.”
I wish this were true. It’s not.
26. Romney said, “President Bush and I are different people, and these are different times. And that’s why my five-point plan is so different than what he would have done.”
Romney’s promises are almost word-for-word the same as what Bush promised 12 years ago.
27. Romney argued, “Our party has been focused on big business too long. I came through small business.”
To call Bain Capital a small business is to strip the phrase of any plausible meaning.
28. Romney also said, “[O]ne of the things I find most troubling [about the Affordable Care Act] is that when you go out and talk to small businesses and ask them what they think about it, they tell you it keeps them from hiring more people.”
There is literally no evidence to support this claim in any way. Indeed, a big chunk of the Affordable Care Act goes to give small businesses a tax break.
29. Romney argued, in reference to Obama, “He said that by now we’d have unemployment at 5.4 percent.”
That’s a favorite GOP talking point, but it’s simply wrong.
30. Romney added, “The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country.”
It’s troubling how detached from reality this is.
31. Romney said, “The only reason the unemployment rate seems a little lower today is because of all the people that have dropped out of the workforce.”
I wish he wouldn’t say nonsense like this.
32. Romney added that Obama “just hasn’t been able to cut the deficit.”
33. Romney also said, “Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust.”
That might be persuasive if the blind trust were actually blind.
34. On immigration, Romney argued, “I did not say that the Arizona law was a model for the nation.”
There’s some nuance here, but he really did call the Arizona law “a model” for the nation.
35. Romney said in reference to the attack in Benghazi, “the president the day after that happened flies to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser.”
There was no Obama fundraiser in Las Vegas on Sept. 12.
36. Romney added, “Consider the distance between ourselves and Israel, where the president said that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.”
Obama didn’t say that.
37. Romney went on to say, “The president’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour.”
How is it possible the whole “apology” lie hasn’t gone away yet?
38. Romney added, “It took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.”
39. Romney argued, “[I]n my state, the pro-gun folks and the anti-gun folks came together and put together a piece of legislation.”
40. Romney said, “I care about 100 percent of the American people.”
I seem to recall watching a video in which Romney said it’s not his “job” to “worry about” 47 percent of the population.
41. On gun control, Romney said, “We of course don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.”
Automatic weapons are not already illegal in this country.
42. Romney added, “Regulations have quadrupled. The rate of regulations quadrupled under this president.”
That’s a new one. It’s also absurd – all one has to do is count.
43. Romney said, “Canada’s tax rate on companies is now 15 percent. Ours is 35 percent. So if you’re starting a business, where would you rather start it? We have to be competitive if we’re going to create more jobs here.”
44. At a campaign event in Richmond, Virginia, Romney asked, “Why was it, with 23 million Americans struggling to find a job, why was it [the president] focused his first three years on Obamacare, which makes it harder to create jobs?”
When Obama took office, the very first thing he focused on was jobs, approving an economic plan that ended the recession.
45. At the same event, Romney said, “There’s been a study done recently that shows that with all the spending he’s planning and of all the interest on the debt that’s associated with all that spending that he’s going to have to raise taxes on middle-income Americans again.”
The “study” in question is a joke.
46. Romney argued, “Obamacare is going to cost you an extra $2,500 a year.”
He appears to have made this up out of whole cloth. Romney sometimes blames rising health care costs in recent years on the Affordable Care Act, but to say the law will in the future cost consumers an extra $2,500 a year is new – and baseless.
47. Romney went on to say, “If the president were to get re-elected, he will cut Medicare by $716 billion.”
Are we really still having this bogus argument?
48. Romney added, “[T]he president has a budget that cuts our military by hundreds of billions of dollars, and then this sequester idea that came from the White House, that cuts it hundreds of billions more.”
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.
49. Romney said, “Seventy-five percent of small businesses surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce said that because of Obamacare, they’re less likely to hire people.”
The claim is a misleading joke – the Chamber, a pro-Republican lobbying institution heavily invested in helping Romney, put up an unscientific online survey. Treating this as a legitimate poll of businesses is fundamentally dishonest.
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