In a way, I blame my friend Greg Sargent. In the first week in January, he noted, almost in passing, that Mitt Romney seemed to be making a lot of false claims, and someone "really should document them all." That struck me as a good idea, so I decided to tackle this on my own.
After all, I thought at the time, how hard could this be? Once a week, I'd let readers know about Romney's whoppers, which I assumed would total about a half-dozen a week, and maybe after the election, I'd do a top 20 list of my favorites. The project would be a nice little Friday-afternoon feature.
Little did I know at the time that Romney would become an ambitious prevaricator, whose rhetoric would come to define post-truth politics. Nearly 11 months after Greg Sargent's harmless suggestion, I've published 40 installments in this series, which, before today, featured 884 falsehoods. (If you include today's edition, the new total is 917 falsehoods for the year.)
I wish that were a typo. It's not.
The outcome of next week's election remains in doubt, but regardless of who wins, I suspect this will be the final edition in the series. If President Obama wins, the project will have run its course. If Romney wins, I rather doubt I'll be able to keep this going every week for four years. So, with that in mind, enjoy the 41st and probably final installment of my weekly series, chronicling Mitt's mendacity.
1. At a campaign event yesterday in Roanoke, Virginia, Romney again suggested the president is to blame for the fact that "gasoline prices" have "gone up."
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.
2. In the same speech, Romney said he should be elected in order to prevent "four more years of trillion dollar deficits in Washington."
According to the budget plan Romney endorsed, we'll have four more years of trillion dollar deficits in Washington anyway.
3. Romney added he has a "five-point plan ... that'll get this economy going."
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.
4. At a campaign event in Doswell, Virginia, Romney said "Obamacare" is "crushing small businesses across America."
There is literally no evidence to support this claim in any way. Indeed, a a significant portion of the ongoing cost of the Affordable Care Act is to give small businesses a tax break.
5. In the same speech, Romney also argued, "The president wants to raise taxes on small business."
In reality, Obama has repeatedly cut taxes on small businesses -- by some counts, 18 times -- and if given a second term, his tax plan would have no effect on 97% of small businesses.
6. Romney also vowed, "I will not raise tax on ... middle-class America."
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.
7. In a television ad, Romney claimed Obama "gutted the work requirement for welfare."
This continues to be as obvious a lie as Romney has told all year.
8. In the same ad, Romney claimed there's been "record unemployment" under Obama.
The unemployment rate topped out at 10% a few years ago, and that's not even close to being a "record."
9. The ad went on to say the rates of "women in poverty" are at their highest rates "ever."
Poverty rates were vastly worse during the last global financial crisis, the Great Depression.
10. The same ad claimed Obama financed the debt by "borrowing from China."
The implication here is that U.S. debt is financed by the Chinese, but this isn't true -- China only holds about 8% of the nation's debt.
11. In a different ad, Romney claimed to "have a plan to help the auto industry."
Asked for a copy of that plan, the Romney campaign refused to provide one.
12. The same ad suggests Jeep production is moving "to China."
This is breathtakingly dishonest.
13. Romney said on Monday he'd cancel his campaign rally in Ohio on Tuesday, out of sensitivity for the victims of Hurricane Sandy.
14. In a radio ad this week, Romney suggested Obama saved the auto industry "for China," adding that "GM cut 15,000 American jobs" because of the president.
GM itself responded to this by saying, "We've clearly entered some parallel universe during these last few days. No amount of campaign politics at its cynical worst will diminish our record of creating jobs in the U.S. and repatriating profits back to this country."
15. The same radio spot adds, "Mitt Romney grew up in the Auto Industry. Maybe that's why the Detroit News endorsed him."
No, the Detroit News specifically called Romney's approach to the auto rescue "wrong-headed."
16. At a campaign event in Avon Lake, Ohio, Romney claimed, "[W]e're at a 30 year low in the number of new businesses that have started up."
17. In the same speech, Romney said, "In Europe ... their corporate tax rate, which used to be higher than ours is now down to 25 percent. Ours is 35 percent. So businesses that are thinking of investing are interested in going elsewhere."
18. Romney went on to say, "I'm going to make sure that we finally get America on track to have 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.
19. Referencing the president, Romney said, "He's cut Medicare $716 billion."
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.
20. Romney also argued, "[T]he president's been spending massively more than he's been taking in."
Government spending is down, not up, under President Obama.
21. Romney went on to boast, "I have a plan that'll create 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.
22. Romney also claimed, "I was governor of a state with a legislature that was 85 percent Democrat. I knew from the very beginning to get anything done, I had to reach across the aisle and I did."
23. At a campaign event in Tampa, Romney said, "Latin America's economy is almost as large as that of China."
That's actually not true.
24. In a speech on the economy in Ames, Iowa, Romney said Obama "doubled" the deficit.
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.
25. In the same speech, Romney said Obama has "proposed any solution at all" to address Medicare's finances.
Actually, Obama shored up Medicare's finances by finding $716 billion in savings, and has a long term plan through IPAB.
26. Romney went on to say the president "did not tame the spending and borrowing."
27. Romney added that Obama "did not reach across the aisle."
Obama repeatedly pleaded with congressional Republicans to work on common solutions. GOP lawmakers responded by opposing every idea, including their own.
28. Romney also said the president "did not stand up to China's trade practices."
29. Romney claimed Obama has "added almost as much debt held by the public as all prior American presidents in history."
He's said this before, but it's not even close to being true.
30. Romney also argued the president "launched an onslaught of new regulations, often to the delight of the biggest banks and corporations."
Putting aside the irony of Romney suggesting Obama is beholden to corporations, there has been no regulatory onslaught.
31. Romney went on to say, "Energy prices are up in part because energy production on federal lands is down."
Nice try, but no.
32. Romney claimed, in reference to Obama, "[H]is tax plan has been calculated to destroy 700,000 jobs."
33. Romney added, "[C]utting one trillion dollars from the military will kill jobs and devastate our national defense."
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.
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, XL