At long last we’ve come to the first presidential debate of this year’s election. Tonight’s debate takes place in Denver, Colorado and will be moderated by PBS’ Jim Lehrer, a seasoned moderator of presidential debates. This debate will focus on domestic policy, with three 15-minute sections on the economy, 15 minutes on health care, 15 minutes on the role of government, and 15 minutes on governing.
With expectations for Mitt Romney sky-high, it’s highly likely he’ll repeat a good number of his well-worn lies, half-truths, and misleading attacks from the campaign trail. In addition to practicing how to appear empathetic, Romney’s also been reportedly memorizing “zingers” to deploy against the president.
1. “There’s only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call Obamacare.”[CBS, 8/15/12]
The reductions included in Obamacare eliminate current over-payments to insurance companies, limit fraud and waste, and slows the growth of the program. Ryan’s budget plan called for the same cuts, but directed the money toward deficit reduction and tax cuts for the rich.
2. “Obama’s made one of America’s largest investments ever in clean coal technology.”[Politico, 8/6/12]
There is no such thing as clean coal — it’s just Obama’s rhetoric to make the product sound better. In actuality, though, coal causes disease, emits mercury, contributes to climate change, wastes water, pollutes seafood, and destroys mountains.
3. “[Obama’s] policies have not helped create jobs, they have depressed them” [RNC speech, 8/30/12]
Just recently, the country hit a net job gain for the last four years. Romney cherry picks the bad numbers, ignoring the fact that Obama entered office at the depths of the biggest loss of jobs the country has experienced post-World War Two:
4. “What I would like to do is to get a tax reduction for middle income families… Middle income people will probably see a little break, because there’ll be no tax on their savings.” [60 Minutes, 9/23/12]
During his stump speeches, Romney has pledged that he won’t raise taxes on middle class Americans. But the most recent analysis of his plan shows that taxes on the middle class wouldincrease by more than $2,000 to achieve revenue neutrality.
5. “We’re not going to have high income people pay less of the tax burden than they pay today.” [Meet the Press, 9/9/12]
The Tax Policy Center determined that Romney’s plan would cause the following: “Americans making over $1 million would see an increase in after-tax income of 4.1 percent (an $87,000 tax cut), those making between $500,000 and $1 million would see an increase of 3.2 percent (a $17,000 tax cut), and those making between $200,000 and $500,000 would see an increase of 0.8 percent (a $1,800 tax cut).”
6. “The White House proposes sequestration, kind of a gun to your head opportunity which is that congress couldn’t get the job done properly and the president couldn’t lead them..” [ABC, 9/27/12]
Romney acts outraged about the $1.2 trillion in automatic spending cuts known as the “sequester,” but his running mate actually voted for the plan. In fact, Ryan peddled the plan to the Republican caucus. After he cast that vote for sequestration, Ryan rarely mentioned the military spending cuts he and Romney now rail against.
7. “President Obama orders religious organizations to violate their conscience” [Deseret News, 1/31/12]
Religious institutions haven’t been forced to “violate their conscience” by paying for contraception. Houses of worship and other religious nonprofits that primarily employ and serve people of the same faith will be exempt from offering birth control.
8.”We have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and refinance their mortgages.” [Address to Congress, 2/24/09]
Housing policies have been a weak point of the Obama administration. Four years after the recession began, the housing market is still floundering. Obama’s program to help “responsible families” only assisted half of struggling homeowners.
9. “I have the impression that the whole regulatory attitude of the [Obama] administration is trying to stop oil and gas and coal.” [NPR, 8/23/2012]
Coal production is up 2.3 percent in Pennsylvania and 6.7 percent in West Virginia, and coal employment is up 10 percent under Obama. On the oil front, oil imports are down and, much to the chagrin of environmentalists, oil production on public lands has grown.
10. “[Obama] added almost as much debt as all the prior presidents combined.” [NYT, 6/19/12]
Not only is this claim not true, but much of the debt comes from tax cuts and military spending— two things that Romney has attacked Obama for not supporting. It’s counter intuitive, then, that Romney would blame the Democrats for the debt problem:
11. “Under Obama’s [welfare] plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job.” [Romney Campaign Ad, 8/7/12]
No one, not the person who presided over the welfare to work requirement’s inception, believes Romney’s claim that Obama removed the welfare to work requirement. The government does not “just send you a check;” rather, Governors (largely in Republican states) can apply for waivers to change their work requirements on a state-by-state basis.
12. “When you increase the number of regulations at a rate three times that of his predecessor… you don’t add jobs.” [Hot Air, 7/17/12]
Regulation hasn’t slowed down hiring. If that were true, employers would be working existing employees at maximum possible hours, and they’re not. In fact, Obama approved 613 new rules during his first 33 months, 4.7 percent fewer than Bush did in the same timespan.