Bernstein, Reich debunk Romney lies on Medicare, welfare


On The Last Word Wednesday, Lawrence O’Donnell welcomed policy wonks Jared Bernstein and Robert Reich to help him take on perhaps the two biggest policy lies that Mitt Romney has been pushing lately. 

First, Bernstein, a Lean Forward contributor and former White House economist, explained in detail why Romney’s claim that by repealing Obamacare he’ll extend and strengthen the program is “completely upside down.”

Said Bernstein:

The suggestion that by putting that $716 billion back in, Mitt Romney will extend the life of the program—its exactly the opposite. Those dollars, the $716 billion, are extra costs that are in Medicare, that are taken out in the Affordable Care Act. They are things like overpayments to private insurers, excessive reimbursement rates. When you take those out, according to that groovy guy, the Medicare Actuary, you actually extend the life of the program by eight years. And this was quite clear on all those factual rebuttals, by putting that money back in, he’s actually shortening the life of the program by eight years … so this is completely upside down.

Indeed, The New York Times reported today that according to several experts, repealing the ACA’s Medicare savings, as Romney wants to do, would shorten the life of Medicare by eight years.

Bernstein went on to debunk Romney’s charge that President Obama has cut seniors’ benefits by $716 billion.

“Those dollars come from inefficiencies on the delivery side, nothing on the beneficiary side,” he said, echoing a point that many objective observers have made. “In fact the Affordable Care Act improves the benefits of Medicare.”

Then it was Reich’s turn. The former Clinton administration Labor Secretary took on Romney’s false—and racially incendiary—charge that President Obama has relaxed the work requirements for welfare, so that recipients can simply sit around and “pick up a check.” In fact, as we’ve written, Obama insisted that states had to show they were putting more welfare recipients to work in order for their changes to be approved.

Said Reich:

It’s exactly the opposite of what Romney has been saying … Republicans for years have been saying we want more flexibilty at the state level for a lot of these programs. So what the president does is, he turns around he says, ‘OK states, you have some more flexibility, particualrly if you’re going to put more welfare recipients to work.’ And then Romney turns around and he says …. the president actually … got rid of the work requirement.’ I mean nothing could be further from the truth.  

So there you have it. Two crucial policy areas, and two flat-out lies from Mitt Romney. Now you have chapter and verse.

Robert Reich, Welfare and Mitt Romney

Bernstein, Reich debunk Romney lies on Medicare, welfare