The broader concerns about Mitt Romney’s comfort with dishonesty reached a milestone this week – it got The Onion treatment. (Remember, this is satire. The quotes in this excerpt are not actual quotes.)
For weeks many Beltway insiders had written off the Romney campaign as dead, saying the candidate had dug himself into too deep a hole with too little time to recover. However, with a month to go before ballots are cast, Romney has pulled even with President Obama, and the former Massachusetts governor credits his rejuvenated campaign to one, singular tactic: lying a lot.
“I’m lying a lot more, and my lies are far more egregious than they’ve ever been,” a smiling Romney told reporters while sitting in the back of his campaign bus, adding that when faced with a choice to either lie or tell the truth, he will more than likely lie. “It’s a strategy that works because when I lie, I’m essentially telling people what they want to hear, and people really like hearing things they want to hear. Even if they sort of know that nothing I’m saying is true.”
“It’s a freeing strategy, really, because I don’t have to worry about facts or being accurate or having any concrete positions of any kind,” Romney added.
The satirical report added that Romney has vowed to continue to “just openly lie [his] ass off” until Election Day. It also “quoted” the Republican’s campaign manager saying, “It’s late in the game, but this campaign has finally found its groove. And that groove is lying. Bald-faced, make-no-apologies, dirty, filthy lying.”
Behind all great satire, of course, is a degree of truth – or in this case, more than a degree. Consider, for example, the 38th installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt’s mendacity. (This is the second longest list of the year – and the quotes below are entirely real, not satire.)
1. At a town-hall forum in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Romney said of President Obama, “He said he was going to cut the deficit in half; 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 projected to be $1.1 trillion. When he says the president “doubled” the deficit, as he has many times, Romney’s lying.
2. At the same event, condemning the Affordable Care Act, Romney said, “We’ll let people choose the plans they want, as opposed to the plan that the president thinks he and the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., are going to impose on the American people.”
As Romney surely knows – his state-based policy works the same way – the whole point of the Affordable Care Act is to provide consumers with choices of private plans, made available through regulated exchanges. Giving people choices in place and “imposing” a plan are opposites.
3. Romney added, “[W]hen I went to the Olympics and helped guide the Olympics, I learned as well you got to balance the budget here or we’ll be in real trouble.”
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.
4. In an interview with the editorial board of the Des Moines Register, Romney argued, “I know the Obama people are excited about trying to find a way to say, ‘Oh, you’re going to raise taxes on middle-income people,’ and I keep pointing out, ‘No, no.’”
5. In the same interview, Romney said that under his proposed plan, “[W]e get to a balanced budget in eight, 10 years.”
6. Romney added that no abortion legislation is part of his agenda: “There’s no legislation with regards to abortion that I’m familiar with that would become part of my agenda.”
Even his own aides said he didn’t mean what he said.
7. In reference to the president, Romney said, “He wants to hire more school teachers. We all like school teachers. It’s a wonderful thing. Typically, school teachers are hired by states and localities, not by the federal government. But hiring school teachers is not going to raise the growth of the U.S. economy over the next three-to-four years.”
Romney himself doesn’t seem to believe this is true, since he said largely the opposite just last week.
8. In an interview with Wolf Blitzer, Romney said, “I want high income people to continue to pay the same share they do today.”
With rhetoric like this, Romney is playing a deeply deceptive game, and playing voters for fools.
9. In the same interview, citing a document from the National Federation of Independent Businesses, Romney said, “The president’s plan, on the other hand, cuts 700,000 jobs.”
10. Hoping to lower expectations for last night’s debate, Romney said, “I don’t know how Paul will deal with his debate. Obviously, the vice president has done, I don’t know, 15 or 20 debates during his lifetime, experienced debater. This is, I think Paul’s first debate. I may be wrong. He may have done something in high school, I don’t know.”
Ryan has been in Congress for 14 years, and has participated in eight election debates before this week.
11. Romney also told Blitzer, “[M]y campaign is 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.
12. At his latest “major” foreign policy speech, delivered in Virginia, Romney said of the Middle East, “As the dust settles, as the murdered are buried, Americans are asking how this happened? How the threats we face have grown worse?”
The threats we face haven’t grown worse. In fact, the number of attacks on U.S. embassies is near an all-time low.
13. In the same speech, Romney said, “The president has not signed one new free trade agreement in the past four years.”
14. Romney added, “The greater tragedy of it all is that we’re missing an historic opportunity to win new friends who share our values in the Middle East.”
Did Romney miss the protests against the militants in Benghazi, featuring Libyans who consider the United States their “new friends” after Obama helped topple the Gadhafi regime?
15. Romney went on to say, “The president explicitly stated that his goal was to put daylight between the United States and Israel.”
16. On Iraq, Romney said, “The president … failed to secure a responsible and gradual drawdown that would have better secured our gains.”
17. On Iran, Romney declared, “I will put the leaders of Iran on notice that the United States and our friends and allies will prevent them from acquiring nuclear weapons capability. I will not hesitate to impose new sanctions on Iran and will tighten the sanctions we currently have. I will restore the permanent presence of aircraft carrier task forces in both the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf region – and work with Israel to increase our military assistance and coordination.”
Obama is already doing all of this. For Romney to suggest his approach would represent a new course is absurdly untrue.
18. On a related note, Romney said, “[W]hen millions of Iranians took to the streets in June 2009, when they demanded freedom from a cruel regime that threatens the world, when they cried out, ‘are you with us or are you with them,’ the American president was silent.”
That’s really not even close to being accurate.
19. Romney complained, “The size of our Navy is at levels not seen since 1916.”
For months, Romney stopped repeating this bogus claim. Alas, it’s back.
20. Romney added, “I’ll roll back President Obama’s deep and arbitrary cuts to our national defense that would devastate our military.”
Romney appears to be referring to cuts, which have not yet kicked in, and which were crafted by Romney’s own party and endorsed by his own running mate.
21. Romney also denounced Obama’s “politically timed retreat that abandons the Afghan people to the same extremists who ravaged their country.”
And in the same paragraph, Romney endorsed Obama’s 2014 withdrawal timetable, offering a rare instance in which the GOP candidate debunked his own falsehood within seconds of saying it out loud.
22. At a campaign event in Van Meter, Iowa, Romney said, “I want to take that tax rate down. I want to take it from 35 percent to 28 percent and help American farmers and small business.”
Fewer than 3 percent of American farmers and small businesses pay the top marginal income tax rate, leaving a whole lot of farmers and small businesses without “help.”
23. At the same event, Romney argued, “Now there are differences on regulations, by the way. And you know this. The regulatory burden under this administration has just gone, has just gone crazy.”
He may be surprised to learn that Obama approved fewer regulations in his first three years in office than Bush did in his first three years.
24. Romney went on to argue that Obama administration officials “of course, want to regulate dust.”
Actually, the truth is more complicated, and it’s certainly not what Romney said.
25. Romney added, “Let me just also note that, you know, people have been waiting a long time for a farm bill. And the president has to exert the kind of presidential leadership it takes to get the House and the Senate together and actually pass a farm bill.”
For Romney to blame the president for a good bill House Republicans refuse to pass is ridiculous.
26. Romney went to say, “There are big differences between the president and me. He has no plan for rural America, no plan for agriculture.”
Romney doesn’t have to agree with Obama’s plan for rural America, but he shouldn’t lie about its existence.
27. In the next breath, Romney added, “[Obama has] no plan for getting people back to work.”
Romney doesn’t have to like the American Jobs Act, but he shouldn’t lie about its existence.
28. At a campaign event in Apopka, Florida, Romney said about the president, “[W]hen he took office, instead of focusing on jobs, he instead focused on Obamacare.”
When Obama took office, the very first thing he focused on was jobs, approving an economic plan that ended the recession.
29. At the same event, Romney said, “[T]hey calculate, because of all that interest expense, and all the spending he’s doing, that he’s going to also raise taxes on middle-income families by an average of $4,000 per family.”
It takes some policy acrobatics to get to this claim, and it’s still not true.
30. Romney added, “[A]s you know, the president has made it clear that he’s going to go ahead with $716 billion in cuts to Medicare.”
As I suspect Romney knows – he’d already endorsed these same cuts earlier in the year – he’s just not telling the truth.
31. Romney also said, “Gasoline prices are up twice what they used to be.”
To blame gas prices on the president’s policies is ridiculously misleading.
32. Romney went on to argue, “You see, if the number of people, if the percentage of the American population that were in the workforce were the same today as the day he was elected, our unemployment rate would be above 11 percent.”
That’s a nice effort to move the goalposts, but it’s still wrong.
33. Romney also said, “And let me tell you, if this president keeps spending a trillion dollars or more than we take in, than we take in every year, you’re going to see us on the road to Greece.”
For those who have even a passing familiarity with the Greek crisis, this is painfully untrue.
34. Romney also argued, “Obamacare … kills jobs and small business.”
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.
35. In a tweet, Romney said, “The middle class can’t afford four more years of [President Obama’s] tax hikes.”
Obama has approved some of the largest middle-class tax cuts ever.
36. In his weekly podcast, Romney boasted, “My ‘Plan for a Stronger Middle Class’ will lead to rising incomes for everyone and create 12 million new jobs in my first term alone.”
Putting aside the pesky detail that Romney doesn’t actually have a specific jobs plan, the fact remains that if we do nothing, we’re on track to create 12 million new American jobs over the next four years anyway.
37. At a campaign event in Abingdon, Virginia, Romney said, “The road this president’s put us on looks like Europe. Europe isn’t working in Europe. It’ll never work here.”
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.
38. In a campaign ad this week, Romney argues, “Since President Obama took office, there are over 450,000 more unemployed women.”
We haven’t heard this one since April. It’s still ridiculously deceptive.
39. And finally, with an important falsehood I missed last week, Romney argued, “Right now, the (Congressional Budget Office) says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year.”
That is 100% wrong.
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