Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cheating

One of the few one-liners Mitt Romney tried out in tonight's debate was the following:
“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)

24 comments:

  1. Obama can take a punch. Lots of them. He proved that in the debate. In doing so the President looked over the hill; tired and out of shape. Like he was in the ring for a paycheck. It is clear who the passionate candidate is.

    I am not sure Obama believes Obama anymore. That is unfortunate because millions of his ardent supporters still do.

    His answers were rambling. He had very little to say. At times, I was uncomfortable for him. Concerned he would embarrass himself.

    Romney, was crisp and looked like he was enjoying himself. He answered questions in at least three parts that were easy to follow.

    He looked the President in the eye and repeatedly stared him down. He looked and sounded more Presidential than the President.

    The President made it to the bell; but I am not sure he will make through a foreign policy debate.

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    1. So to you it doesn't matter that Romney lied through his teeth repeatedly as long as his answers were crisp and easy to follow?

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  2. I understand your frustration but am surprised at your reaction. You are a seasoned, veteran political player.

    I hear partisans on the left are claiming that the opposition lies and spins, yet their candidate does not. The right does it as well. Do I like it? No, not from either side.

    On another note, few observers follow politics as closely as you do.
    Sadly, our political debates are not won on substance. They are won by presence; and Romney had more presence. On the bright side for Obama, debates don't matter much if we look at history.

    As a lawyer Obama should know never to ask a question he didn't know the answer to. He seemed to forget that Romney governed with a decisively democrat state legislature and accomplished quite a bit. One of the most decisive parts of the debate was Romney reminding listeners that he had bipartisan support for Romneycare while Obama, Pelosi and Reid shoved it through in an ugly manner and then gloated. That mistake set the tone for the next two years, spent political capital and took attention away job creation. Romney punished him for that.

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    1. The idea that Obama, Pelosi and Reid "shoved" health care through Congress is just another lie that the right likes to repeat. Congress held more hearings on health care reform than almost any bill in history, and made strenuous efforts to obtain Republican support. The whole premise of the bill is based on ideas that Republicans championed in the past. Senator Grassley gave indications he would support it, and Senator Snowe actually voted for it in committee, but then fell in line with the Senate leadership. The fact is that Republicans in Congress made a strategic decision that they would not support comprehensive health care reform in any fashion whatsoever. You can admire the Republicans for their party discipline if you want, but you can't say that Obama did not try to pass health care reform in a bipartisan manner.

      Massachusetts is a different story. With an overwhelmingly Democratic legislature, all a Republican governor has to do is go along with the Democrats once in a while and he can claim to be bi-partisan. In fact the governor has no choice but to do that.

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  3. << The idea that Obama, Pelosi and Reid "shoved" health care through Congress is just another lie that the right likes to repeat. >>

    That's a lie!

    See how this goes both ways?

    You make my point for me :-)

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  4. If you want to accuse me of repeating a lie, you have to prove it is a lie. You can't just yell, "that's a lie!" Unless you're Joe Wilson. And even Wilson apologized for doing that.

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  5. I think I understand the rules that you and Doc Danneka have set up :-)

    It's a paradoxical situation in which an individual cannot avoid a problem because of contradictory constraints or rules. Solving one part of a problem only creates another problem, which ultimately leads back to the original problem. You have control of this Catch-22 and no one here can accuse the left of telling a lie or they are lieing.

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  6. Here is a pretty decent FactCheck: definitely some problems here to clear up!

    http://factcheck.org/2012/10/dubious-denver-debate-declarations/

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    1. This is a good example of false equivalence. Note that they are careful to alternate both candidates' statements, and include just as many Obama statements as Romney statements. If you were doing an honest fact check, however, you wouldn't care which candidate had more false statements, and you wouldn't try to equalize them in a phony effort to show how fair you supposedly are.

      Also they don't even include some of Romney's most egregious lies, documented in my post: that Romney has no plan to cut education spending; that Obama took $716 billion from Medicare, implying that he cut benefits, and failing to mention that the Ryan budget includes the same savings; and that Romney's health plan covers pre-existing conditions (which they later admitted it does not). They do include Romney's denial that he is planning a $5 trillion tax cut, but they discount it because Romney also promises to offset those cuts. The only trouble is that Romney won't specify where the offsets are.

      You can accuse me or anyone else on the left of telling a lie, but you have to prove it, is all I said.

      If you want to see a more complete list of Romney's misstatements, go here: http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2012/10/04/958801/at-last-nights-debate-romney-told-27-myths-in-38-minutes/

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  7. Lets talk about some serious lies. What are you comments about the administration knowing about a dozen attacks on us in Libya, plus numerous pleas for additional security that were declined, the murder of our ambassador and the cover up that followed?

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    1. You're listening to way too much much right wing TV and radio.

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    2. And you must have your head in the sand.

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  8. I watched Cutter admit that the administration has lied and distorted the facts around Romney's tax plan and the supposed 5 trillion dollar short fall. Now, if Cutter can do that on national television, certainly you can admit your part in perpetuating the lie here.

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    1. Romney doesn't have a tax plan. It is a pure fantasy.

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    2. I just found the Stephanie Cutter clip you are talking about and in no way did she admit that the campaign lied about the $5 trillion tax cut. It IS a $5 trillion tax cut, and Romney has been talking about doing that for a year. Now he says he is going to make up that $5 trillion by closing some loopholes and deductions, so Cutter admits it won't net out to $5 trillion if he does that. But the important point is that Romney refuses to explain how he is going to gain that much revenue back or which loopholes and deductions he is going to close. Unless he does that, he is just talking out of his hat. So it is Romney who is lying, not the Obama campaign.

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  9. << the important point is that Romney refuses to explain how he is going to gain that much revenue back or which loopholes and deductions he is going to close. >>

    Thank you. Finally. You are telling the truth. That is different from calling him a lier.

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    1. Romney is lying about his tax plan. The reason is as follows. If you cut rates by 20% across the board, most of the revenue loss is going back to the wealthiest taxpayers. Think about it. If you're making millions in income and your rate goes down from 35% to 28% that is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars to you. How is Romney going to make up that loss by removing deductions and loopholes? Most of the deductions that you can eliminate, like the mortgage interest deduction or the property tax deduction, are worth the most to middle class taxpayers. The super-wealthy have already maxed out those benefits on their first few hundred thousands of income. So if you try to make up the lost revenue by eliminating deductions and loopholes, the only way you can make up the lost revenue is to take more from the middle class.

      There is another way that you might get there, and that would be to raise capital gains taxes to the same rate as earned income. That is what Reagan did in the 1986 tax reform act. But Romney is expressly saying he is not going to raise capital gains taxes. He wants to keep them at half the rate of earned income. And he also wants to get rid of estate taxes.

      And that is why he will never specify how he is going to make up the lost revenue, because he knows that the only way to do is is a tax hike for the middle class and a big refund for the wealthy. There simply is no other way to do it. So Romney is either going to cut taxes across the board and explode the deficit, because Congress is never going to eliminate all the deductions and loopholes that taxpayers like, or Romney is going to take more money from the middle class and give it to the rich. And that is why Romney is a big fat liar.

      And people need to understand this. Because the only reason people should be voting for Romney is if they think that the biggest problem we have in this country is that the poor and middle class have too much money, and rich people do not have enough.

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    2. By your logic Obama lied to us when he said he would cut the deficit in half. He lied to us when he said Obamacare would cut my health care premium by $2500 and it rose by $2500. He lied about closing Guantanomo. He lied about getting a one payer system. He has lied about green energy. He lied about comprehensive immigration reform. He lied about doing away with Bush era tax cuts. I could go on and on and on ...

      The left is lying to itself.

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    3. Do you not see the difference between making a proposal that you have not been able to accomplish, for whatever reason, and misrepresenting the effect of the proposal you are making? Mitt Romney is lying about the effects of his tax plan, and he is deliberately withholding details about it because he knows those details will reveal that the plan is not feasible. Obama, on the other hand, is still working hard to accomplish the things on your list. Except for single payer. Contrary to the claims of some on the left, Obama never promised that we would be able to enact a single payer system. He merely said he would have preferred such a system if we were starting from scratch.

      It is frustrating to argue with you because you don't address the point I am making. Or maybe you agree that Mitt Romney is trying to perpetrate a massive fraud on the American people but you think that's ok, because Obama made some promises that he hasn't been able to deliver on yet.

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    4. I have never said Romney was not misleading. Or that he could do exactly what he said.

      I said: "I hear partisans on the left are claiming that the opposition lies and spins, yet their candidate does not. The right does it as well. Do I like it? No, not from either side."

      If elected he may try to implement what he says just as hard as Obama has to cut the deficit in half.

      I object to your one sided "lies" reference. But if you prefer that route, then you must admit that Obama is a lier as well. I knew Obama couldn't cut the deficit in half, you knew he couldn't cut the deficit in half. So to say Romney is lieing but Obama wasn't is a lie. I admit both men were/are misleading and could never do what they say. You will not. You have either lost your objectivity or political integrity.

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    5. Did you know it would only cost about $2000 per person to cut the deficit in half? It's quite doable, but it would probably slow the economy to do it, so nobody wants to do it right now. And if Congress had gone along with President Obama's plan to end the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,00 a year back in 2010, we would have gone quite a ways toward that goal.

      Also if Congress does nothing in the lame duck session, and thereby allows all the Bush tax cuts to expire and sequester to kick in, that would also substantially reduce the deficit. The point being that Obama's plan was entirely feasible, but for various reasons, including Congressional opposition as well as the administration's own desire to keep the deficit large to create more economic stimulus (since Congress was also blocking other attempts at job creation), the administration did not achieve that goal.

      Romney's goal of reducing tax rates without causing more regressivity in the tax code, on the other hand, is not feasible. Nobody can do that, as I explained above. It just isn't possible and that's why Romney will not specify what deductions he plans to eliminate. Because he knows his goal is not possible.

      And that is why Romney is lying but Obama was not lying.

      By the way, I never claimed to be objective, but I do try to be truthful. You might think you are being objective by criticizing both sides equally, but to me that approach is just as biased. It is biased in favor of a pre-conceived notion that both sides are equal and neither side is superior in any way. And that is not always true. Sometimes one side lies way more than the other. If you are not seeing that in this campaign, I don't think you are seeing it clearly.

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    6. << I never claimed to be objective, but I do try to be truthful. >>

      We have established you are not objective.

      << Sometimes one side lies way more than the other. >>

      Now we agree both sides are lying. One side more than the other.

      As always, thanks for the discussion and truthfulness from your perspective.

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    7. I don't agree that both sides are lying.

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  10. I wonder if we will find out the deatils surrounding this debate and Obama's performance years from now in another book. To me he looked as if something had him very distracted. Whether it was a personal issue with his daughters or wife, their health; or even the shelling of Turkey and the pressure he was under along with fellow NATO countries to keep calm. I do believe we will get the background in the future. I do think something altered him that goes beyond less than good advice from "Axe".

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