“You’re entitled, Mr. President, as the president to your own airplane and your own house, but not to your own facts. I’m not going to cut education funding. I don’t have any plan to cut education funding.”Cute, especially because a comment like that distracts attention from the lack of facts in Romney's own presentation. It's also just flat-out false, since Romney has endorsed the Paul Ryan/House Republican budget, which proposes substantial across-the-board cuts in domestic spending, including education.
And that was only one of the falsehoods that Romney repeated tonight. Most frustrating was the claim that Romney was not proposing to cut taxes on the wealthiest Americans, when the centerpiece of his economic plan for the past year-and-a-half has been a 20% reduction in income tax rates, which would benefit the wealthiest taxpayers the most. Romney claims this reduction would be offset by eliminating loopholes and deductions, but refuses to specify what loopholes and deductions he proposes to eliminate, most likely because he knows that while the wealthy would gain the most from the proposed tax cuts, the middle class would end up paying for a lot of the eliminated deductions. That prompted President Obama's best retort of the night (at least based on the cheers of the raucous crowd of Obama supporters in the bar where I watched the debate):
Well, for 18 months he’s been running on this tax plan, and now five weeks before the election, he says his big bold idea is ‘never mind.' And the fact is that if you are lowering the rates the way you describe, governor, then it is not possible to come up with enough deductions and loopholes that only affect high-income individuals to avoid raising the deficit or burdening the middle class. It’s math — arithmetic.But later I watched a CNN focus group of supposedly undecided voters (where do they find these people?), who felt that President Obama's "never mind" remark represented the president's low point of the night. Go figure.
Then there is the $716 billion Medicare cut lie that Romney is not ashamed to repeat, even though his and Paul Ryan's plan would cut far more from Medicare, and cut Medicare in ways that would actually reduce benefits, rather than cutting payments to insurance companies and providers and cracking down on fraud as the Obama administration is doing (cuts that the Paul Ryan budget would also continue).
Romney also repeated the lie that Romney's health care plan (does Romney even have a health care plan?) would provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. One of Romney's campaign advisers later admitted that in fact President Obama was entirely right in pointing out that Romney only plans to afford coverage for people who have maintained continuous coverage, which is already provided under existing law. Thus in no way does Romney have any ideas at all about covering the millions of people with pre-existing conditions who cannot obtain affordable coverage in the private market.
Despite all that, a lot of pundits seem to have scored the debate as a win for Romney. But if you can only "win" by cheating, isn't that about as valid as the way Lance Armstrong "won" the Tour de France, or Barry Bonds "won" the home run crown?
Points will be awarded for finding me in this picture, published in the LA Times October 4, 2012. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times photo)