41 Minutes, 24 Myths
If you watched last night’s debate, you already know that Mitt Romney came down with a particularly serious case of Romnesia. He not only tried to hide his real positions and obfuscate his record, he even went so far as to pretend that he agreed with the president on several key issues.
We can’t let the real Mitt Romney get away with hiding his real positions during the last two weeks of the election, so ThinkProgress’ Igor Volsky rounded up Romney’s fibs, whoppers, half-truths, tall tales and distortions from last night in order to help cure Mitt’s Romnesia:
1) “Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world. It’s their route to the sea.” Romney has his geography wrong. Syria doesn’t share a border with Iran and Iran has 1,500 miles of coastline leading to the Arabian Sea. It is also able to reach the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.
2) “And what I’m afraid of is we’ve watched over the past year or so [in Syria], first the president saying, well we’ll let the U.N. deal with it…. Then it went to the Russians and said, let’s see if you can do something.” While Russia and China have vetoed multiple resolutions at the U.N. Security Council on Syria, the United States has also been working through the Friends of Syria group and other allies in the region. Obama’s approach “would essentially give U.S.nods of approval to arms transfers from Arab nations to some Syrian opposition fighters.”
3) “Former chief of the — Joint Chiefs of Staff said that — Admiral Mullen said that our debt is the biggest national security threat we face. This — we have weakened our economy. We need a strong economy. We need to have as well a strong military.” If Romney is worried about the national debt, why does he want to increase military spending from 3.5 percent of GDP to 4 percent? This amounts to a $2.1 trillion increase over a ten year period that the military says it does not need and Romney has no plan to pay for it.
4) “[W]hen — when the students took to the streets in Tehran and the people there protested, the Green Revolution occurred, for the president to be silent I thought was an enormous mistake.” Obama spoke out about the Revolution on June 15, 2009, just two days after post-election demonstrations began in Iran, condemning the Iranian government’s hard-handed crackdown on Iranian activists. He then reiterated his comments a day later in another press conference. Iranian activists have agreed with Obama’s approach.
5) “And when it comes to our economy here at home, I know what it takes to create 12 million new jobs and rising take-home pay.” The Washington Post’s in-house fact checker tore Romney’s claim that he will create 12 million jobs to shreds. The Post wrote that the “‘new math’” in Romney’s plan “doesn’t add up.” In awarding the claim four Pinocchios — the most untrue possible rating, the Post expressed incredulity at the fact Romney would personally stand behind such a flawed, baseless claim.
6) “[W]e are going to have North American energy independence. We’re going to do it by taking full advantage of oil, coal, gas, nuclear and our renewables.” Romney would actuallyeliminate the fuel efficiency standards that are moving the United States towards energy independence, even though his campaign plan relies on these rules to meet his goals.
7) “[W]e’re going to have to have training programs that work for our workers.” Paul Ryan’s budget, which Romney has fully endorsed, calls for spending 33 percent less on “Education, training, employment, and social services” than Obama’s budget.
9) “Well, Republicans and Democrats came together on a bipartisan basis to put in place education principles that focused on having great teachers in the classroom.” Education experts have faint praise for his proposals while he was governor. “His impact was inconsequential,” said Glen Koocher, executive director of the Massachusetts Association of School Committees. “People viewed his proposals as political talking points, and no one took Romney seriously.”
10) “So I’d get rid of [Obamacare] from day one. To the extent humanly possible, we get that out.” Romney cannot unilaterally eliminate a bill passed by Congress and his plan to grant states waivers may also be a non-starter.
11) “Number two, we take some programs that we are doing to keep, like Medicaid, which is a program for the poor.” Medicaid isn’t just a program for the poor. While it provides health coverage for “millions of low-income children and families who lack access to the private health insurance system,” it also offers “insurance to millions of people with chronic illnesses or disabilities” and is “the nation’s largest source of coverage for long-term care, covering more than two-thirds of all nursing home residents.” Medicaid is also a key source of coverage for pregnant women.
12) “[W]e’ll take [Medicaid] for the poor and we give it to the states to run because states run these programs more efficiently.” A Congressional Budget Office analysis of Paul Ryan’s proposal to block grant Medicaid found that if federal spending for Medicaid decreased, “states would face significant challenges in achieving sufficient cost savings through efficiencies to mitigate the loss of federal funding.” As a result, enrollees could “face more limited access to care,” higher out-of-pocket costs, and “providers could face more uncompensated care as beneficiaries lost coverage for certain benefits or lost coverage altogether.”
13) “Our Navy is old — excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917…That, in my view, is making — is making our future less certain and less secure. The U.S. Navy is smaller than it was in 1917, but it is not making America less secure. The navy has actually grown in the sheer number of ships under Obama and Romney’s plans to increase shipbuilding is unrealistic. As one historian told PolitiFact, counting the number of ships or aircraft “is not a good measurement of defense strength because their capabilities have increased dramatically in recent decades.” Romney’s comparison “doesn’t pass ‘the giggle test,’” he said.
14) “And then the president began what I have called an apology tour, of going to various nations in the Middle East and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness.” Obama never embarked on an “apology tour.”
15) “And I think that when the president said he was going to create daylight between ourselves and Israel, that they noticed that as well.” They haven’t noticed because it’s not true. Israeli Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak told CNN, “President Obama is doing . . . more than anything that I can remember in the past [in regard to our security].” “When I look at the record of President Obama concerning the major issues, security, I think it’s a highly satisfactory record, from an Israeli point of view,” said Israeli President Shimon Peres.
16) “And — and — we should not have wasted these four years to the extent they — they continue to be able to spin these centrifuges and get that much closer.” Obama hasn’t wasted time on Iran. In July 2012, Obama signed into law the most effective sanctions ever put into place against Iran, targeting the country’s oil and financial sectors. These sanctions were imposed unilaterally by the U.S. and come in addition to the four rounds of sanctions the UN has enacted since 2006. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the sanctions “very effective,” and Romney has said he would continue them if elected.
17) “I would tighten those sanctions. I would say that ships that carry Iranian oil, can’t come into our ports. I imagine the E.U. would agree with us as well.” Almost no Iranian oil has come into the United States since Ronald Reagan signed an executive order in 1987 banning all U.S. imports from Iran. The nation received a small amount of oil from Iran after the first Gulf War, in 1991.
18) “I see jihadists continuing to spread, whether they’re rising or just about the same level, hard to precisely measure, but it’s clear they’re there. They’re very strong.” Obama’s policies appear to have gravely weakened al Qaeda Central, the lead arm of the organization in Pakistan and Afghanistan principally responsible for 9/11.
19) “It’s not government investments that makes businesses grow and hire people.” The Romney campaign routinely touts government military spending as a way to create jobs and boost businesses.
20) “My plan to get the [auto] industry on its feet when it was in real trouble was not to start writing checks. It was President Bush that wrote the first checks. I disagree with that. I said they need — these [auto] companies need to go through a managed bankruptcy.” Romney’s plan for the auto bailout would have ensured the collapse of the auto industry. In his editorial titled “Let Detroit Go Bankrupt,” Romney advocated for letting the private sector finance the bankruptcy of General Motors and Chrysler. Auto insiders, however, have said that plan was “reckless” and “pure fantasy.”
21) “Research is great. Providing funding to universities and think tanks is great. But investing in companies? Absolutely not.” Ryan’s plan, which Romney has endorsed, “could cut spending on non-defence-related research and development by 5%, or $3.2 billion, below the fiscal-year 2012 budget, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Over the long term, Ryan’s small-government approach would shrink funding for research and development to historically small sizes.”
22) “One is a path represented by the president, which at the end of four years would mean we’d have $20 trillion in debt heading towards Greece.” The U.S. is not headed down a path like that of Greece. Greece, contrary to popular belief, had a revenue problem rather than a spending problem. While its spending was high compared to US standards — 50.4 percent of GDP compared to 38 percent of GDP in the US — its spending was average among European nations. As CAP’s Michael Linden and Sabina Dewan note, “Over the past 10 years, Greece has consistently spent less, as a share of GDP, than the European Union as a whole.” However, it generated less that 40 percent of GDP from revenue — one of the lowest rates in the EU.
23) “I was in a state where my legislature was 87 percent Democrat. I learned how to get along on the other side of the aisle.” Given Romney’s 844 vetoes as governor, Massachusetts legislators dispute this claim. As the New York Times has noted, “The big-ticket items that Mr. Romney proposed when he entered office in January 2003 went largely unrealized, and some that were achieved turned out to have a comparatively minor impact.”
24) “We should key our foreign aid, our direct foreign investment, and that of our friends, we should coordinate it to make sure that we — we push back and give them more economic development.” Romney’s website promises to “Reduce Foreign Aid — Savings: $100 Million.” “Stop borrowing money from countries that oppose America’s interests in order to give it back to them in the form of foreign aid,” it says. In November of 2011, Romney said he would start foreign aid for every country “at zero” and call on them to make their case for U.S. financial assistance.
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