Even I have to admit it: Mittens won that debate on Wednesday. He was aggressive and poised, continually demanded the right to rebut and nowhere near as long-winded as the President. He also didn’t resort to stories about his grandparents that bored the pants off of anyone listening, largely – I assume – because his grandparents were polygamists who lived in Mexico. Obama, on the other hand, was on the defensive the entire time. He got a few digs in at Romney, but he was largely trying to answer Mitt’s attacks and sidestep the one undeniably true thing he said the entire night: that Obama promised to cut the deficit in half but has failed to do so (to be honest, though, Romney accused Obama of doubling the deficit, which is false). But two things negate this victory: first, he really needs to work on what his face is saying while he’s not talking. I mean, look at this shitty face. It’s so shitty. It’s the most smug, dismissive, haughty thing I’ve ever seen and I wanted to vomit throughout the entire debate.
Second, Romney’s debate was run the same as his entire campaign: with lies.
Sure, they were stylistically perfect lies, delivered with the kind of ceaseless rapid fire that is precisely the way you bury an opponent, but they were still lies. The fact-checkers are still unpacking the debate as I write this, but they’ve already come out with a fair list of fibs on top of the many already-debunked claims that Romney made throughout. Here are a few of the whoppers that flew by, couched in confusing numbers and said with such vigor and conviction that you might have missed them if you weren’t paying rapt attention:
- Obama cut $716 billion from Medicare. Not true, no matter how many times Mitt, his proxies and the countless campaign ads we’re having shoved down our throats here in Ohio repeat it. The Affordable Care Act (heretofore referred to as “Obamacare” in perpetuity) reduces the amount Medicare will pay out by $716 billion over ten years. It’s not a cut to the budget of the program, but a lowering of expenses. But that doesn’t stop the GOP from mischaracterizing it every chance they get.
- “There are six other studies that looked at that study and say it’s completely wrong.” This was in response to the Tax Policy Center’s study that said there is no conceivable way for Romney to lower taxes the way he says he will and not effect revenue without effectively raising taxes on the middle-class. Funny thing, though, is that of those six studies two are blog posts by Romney supporters and none of them was done by a non-partisan organization (the Tax Policy Center, by the way, is non-partisan and slightly Libertarian-leaning in my opinion). The only one done by someone who is not directly backing Romney was the one by Harvey Rosen, a member of George W. Bush’s economic council, who made some pretty hefty assumptions about wage growth to make the numbers work. There’s lots more information about the whole thing in this very informative article from FactCheck.org.
- An unelected board will choose which procedures can and cannot be performed under Obamacare. Oh goody, the death panel argument again. While it’s true that the board will be appointed and not elected (let’s be honest, people – some positions should not be up for public election, and I haven’t heard Romney complain about the appointed Supreme Court that makes so many crucial decisions about American law…possibly because currently they are majority Republican appointees), the board’s purpose is to find and implement cost-saving measures, not to deny granny the liver transplant she needs to live. Romney (like Sarah Palin and countless other morons before him) is conflating finding ways to save money via eliminating redundancy and other similar measures with a case-by-case decision about whether or not to allow medical procedures. The wording of the ACA specifically forbids this kind of action.
- Obama doubled the deficit and gas prices have doubled under his watch. First, the true part – gas prices have, indeed, doubled since the day Obama took office. However, this claim completely disregards the fact that gas prices also doubled during the Bush administration and, more importantly, that the president has absolutely no control over the price of gasoline. None. Zero. It is a complete straw man. Even if we produced more oil domestically, the price of oil is set by a global market, and there is nothing whatsoever that we could do to lower those prices internally. As for the deficit, while it has not been cut in half as per Obama’s promises, it has also not doubled. In point of fact, it has remained pretty much entirely steady since the President took office. Obama inherited a 1.3 trillion dollar deficit. The highest it’s gone is 1.4 trillion in 2010. That’s an increase of $100 million or 1/13th of total deficit. At its peak, that’s a 7.7% increase, not a 200% increase. Currently, the deficit is back to $1.3 trillion.
But these were just the outright lies and distortions. Romney also continued to cite his magical tax plan that cuts taxes and broadens the tax base without lowering revenues, but still refused to offer any real, tangible details. He’s added this new scheme where deductions are capped at a certain amount – he obviously spitballed it during the debate when he said “pick a number, let’s say $75,000”, which tells me pretty clearly that he hasn’t worked it out himself – but that still doesn’t tell us what the plan is. And regardless, his assumption is that by lowering the tax rate, particularly the corporate tax rate, new jobs will magically be created, even though corporations are currently hoarding record amounts of money. We tried giving corporations more money to create jobs and instead, they kept the cash socked away in case of another fiscal crisis. So why are they going to magically change their minds this time?
This is the new way politics are done: the spin and cherry-picking of old have been replaced by outright, bald-faced lies. Welcome to the new elections, America. It’s your job as citizens to do your homework and find out what’s real and what’s not, because the candidates and their teams are no longer going to bother with it. Godspeed.