“Hedging His Words”: Mitt Romney Isn’t Proposing A $5 Trillion Tax Break, It’s A $10 Trillion Tax Break
Part of Mitt Romney’s strategy in the first debate Wednesday night in Denver was to play fact-checker with false facts — also known as “lies.”
After the president said that he was proposing a $5 trillion tax break, Romney responded, “I don’t have a $5 trillion cut. I don’t have a tax cut of the scale that you’re talking about.”
He was partially correct. He isn’t proposing a $5 trillion tax break — his tax cut proposals equal more than $10 trillion over the next 10 years, according to Citizens for Tax Justice.
Romney’s new tax breaks would cost about $500 billion a year. This is on top of extending the Bush tax breaks, which would cost just over $5 trillion.
The president probably didn’t point out the full cost of the Bush tax breaks because he proposes to keep the tax breaks for the middle class at a cost of about $4 trillion. But these taxes have always been temporary and are supposed to expire. Romney is proposing making them permanent along with more cuts for a total of $10 trillion in tax breaks, as we are in the middle of a so-called debt crisis.
Romney also claimed that he is not proposing new tax breaks for the rich. “…I’m not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income people. High-income people are doing just fine in this economy,” he said. “They’ll do fine whether you’re president or I am.”
Notice the key word there? “Share.”
Romney simply cannot claim that he isn’t going to reduce taxes for the richest Americans — he’s just promising that his cuts won’t benefit the rich disproportionally, just as George W. Bush falsely did in 2000.
In addition to the Bush tax breaks he promises to continue, Governor Romney wants to cut the estate tax, which only the richest Americans pay, to zero. His tax breaks will almost certainly cut the taxes the richest pay — despite his promises to remove reductions.
“An analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice found that even if millionaires were forced to give up all the tax expenditures that Romney has put on the table, his tax plan would still give a tax break of at least $250,000 on average for individuals making over $1 million,” the organization wrote in its “Debate Debrief.” “That is, he simply cannot back up his assertion that he is ‘not going to reduce the share of taxes paid by high- income people.’ And if he really is going to make up the revenues we’ll lose to his rate cuts, taxes would have to go up for other taxpayers.”
Romney has gone out his way to hide the specifics of his tax plan and is carefully hedging his words to make specious claims.
But let’s be clear about the facts. Mitt Romney is proposing a $10 trillion tax break. And he is clearly promising to cut the amount of taxes the richest Americans pay.
The fact that he has to do everything he can to hide this proves what a failure right-wing trickle-down economics have been.
By: Jason Sattler, The National Memo, October 5, 2012
Independent fact checkers have not been particularly kind to Mitt Romney since Wednesday’s first presidential debate in Denver. But one of the candidate’s claims turned out to be so far off the mark that he had to be corrected by his own aides — a fact not unnoticed by the Obama campaign.
Romney’s claim was this, part of what turned out to be a highly detailed discussion of health care: “No. 1, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.”
By pre-existing conditions, Romney was talking about the ability for people who already have medical problems — diabetes, for example, or even things like allergies — to buy health insurance. Starting in 2014, the federal Affordable Care Act says insurance companies can no longer reject people with bad health histories — nor can they charge them more.
That’s already true in Massachusetts under the law Romney signed as governor. But Romney’s current plan for the nation, should he be elected president, wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that same protection.
“Actually, governor, that isn’t what your plan does,” President Obama told Romney at the debate Wednesday. “What your plan does is to duplicate what’s already the law.”
The president was referring to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. It’s a 1996 law that says, among other things, that once you have health insurance you can continue to purchase it, as long as there’s no interruption in your coverage of more than 63 days.
But Romney’s plan wouldn’t guarantee that people who don’t have coverage now will be able to buy it. Top Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said as much in the so-called spin room to several reporters right after the debate, and again on Thursday on CNN.
“The governor will repeal Obamacare and he will return to the states the power to control their own health care futures,” Fehrnstrom told Wolf Blitzer. “Look, what works in Massachusetts may not work in Texas. It was wrong for the president to take the broad outlines of the Massachusetts plan and impose it as a dictate from Washington on every state in the nation.”
That correction was gladly picked up by the Obama forces. At a rally Friday in Northern Virginia, Obama took credit for one of the few times he actually called Romney out during the debate.
“Gov. Romney was fact checked by his own campaign. That’s rough,” the president told a cheering crowd at George Mason University. “Even they know his plan would take away coverage for tens of millions of Americans.”
This isn’t the first time a Romney statement has had to be walked back by his staff when it comes to health care. In recent weeks he’s misstated or switched positions on abortion and on Medicaid. But at 67 million viewers, this was by far the largest audience that’s heard something different from what the candidate’s position actually is.
By: Julie Rovner, NPR, October 6, 2012
Well, I had hoped for better news fare, but the BLS Truthers are kind of blotting out the sun at the moment, infecting a lot of people who should know better right along with the crazy people and the stone hacks. I’ll just quote Greg Sargent here on the possibility that this frantic effort–born, I suspect, of over-reaction to the first presidential debate, which had conservatives cackling with insane glee before the first poll came in–could actually backfire. After citing other examples of the “closed conservative information feedback loop,” Greg says this:
This latest — unemployment trutherism — strikes me as having the potential to be a bit more damaging to Romney. It’s very likely that these claims are now going to break through to the nightly news, drawing still more attention to the dropping unemployment rate.
Of course, there’s always the danger that news outlets will cover this stuff in a he-said-she-said manner, reporting on the assertions of the unemployment truthers without calling them out, thus injecting them into the discourse. But that seems unlikely. This is really out there stuff, and hopefully the networks will say so outright. If so, it’s hard to see how it’s helpful to Romney for undecided voters to be treated to the sight of fury and panic about improving economic news among those who want him to be elected president.
On top of that, of course, if the freak-out is about the BLS report distracting attention from Mitt’s Triumphant Vanquishing of the Evil Obama, then the crazy-talk is a much bigger distraction: like turning on the local news and watching the weatherman have a nervous breakdown because his forecast turned out to be wrong.
By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington Monthly Political Animal, October 5, 2012
When we last checked in with Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted (R), he was still trying to limit early-voting opportunities in advance, taking his case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals.
Today, he lost there, too.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Friday that Ohio must make early voting during the three days before the election available to all voters if it’s available to military members and voters who live overseas. The ruling upheld a lower court’s decision.
“The State’s asserted goal of accommodating the unique situation of members of the military, who may be called away at a moment’s notice in service to the nation, is certainly a worthy and commendable goal,” the court ruled. “However, while there is a compelling reason to provide more opportunities for military voters to cast their ballots, there is no corresponding satisfactory reason to prevent non-military voters from casting their ballots as well.”
The full ruling is online here.
To briefly recap for those who haven’t been following this story, Ohio had previously allowed voters an early-voting window of three days before Election Day, which in turn boosted turnout and alleviated long lines in 2008. This year, Republican officials wanted to close the window — active-duty servicemen and women could vote early, but no one else, not even veterans, could enjoy the same right.
One prominent Republican official recently conceded he opposes weekend voting because it would “accommodate the urban — read African American — voter-turnout machine.”
President Obama’s campaign team filed suit, asking for a level playing field, giving every eligible Ohio voter — active-duty troops, veterans, and civilians — equal access. Ohio Republicans kept pushing back, but as of today, they’ve lost.
There is, however, a catch.
For one thing, Husted and the Kasich administration may well appeal to the full 6th Circuit — which isn’t exactly the 9th Circuit when it comes to being reliably progressive — and hope for an en banc reversal. There isn’t much time remaining, but it’s something to look out for.
For another, the federal appeals court panel doesn’t require early-voting opportunities, and leaves the matter up to individual county elections boards to decide how to proceed.
As Rick Hasen explained, that may cause new problems.
[T]he court’s remedy creates a potential new equal protection problem for the state, by allowing different counties to adopt different uniform standards — though the Secretary of State could well impose uniformity.
Hasen’s take on this is a little wonky, and too long to excerpt here, but it’s worth checking out for a fuller understanding of today’s outcome.
That said, to make a long story short, today is a win for voting-rights advocates and the Obama administration, and a defeat for Ohio Republicans. It is not, however, the end of the fight, and GOP officials have some available options.
By: Steve Benen, The Maddow blog, October 5, 2012
“No. 1,” declared Mitt Romney in Wednesday’s debate, “pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” No, they aren’t — as Mr. Romney’s own advisers have conceded in the past, and did again after the debate.
Was Mr. Romney lying? Well, either that or he was making what amounts to a sick joke. Either way, his attempt to deceive voters on this issue was the biggest of many misleading and/or dishonest claims he made over the course of that hour and a half. Yes, President Obama did a notably bad job of responding. But I’ll leave the theater criticism to others and talk instead about the issue that should be at the heart of this election.
So, about that sick joke: What Mr. Romney actually proposes is that Americans with pre-existing conditions who already have health coverage be allowed to keep that coverage even if they lose their job — as long as they keep paying the premiums. As it happens, this is already the law of the land. But it’s not what anyone in real life means by having a health plan that covers pre-existing conditions, because it applies only to those who manage to land a job with health insurance in the first place (and are able to maintain their payments despite losing that job). Did I mention that the number of jobs that come with health insurance has been steadily declining over the past decade?
What Mr. Romney did in the debate, in other words, was, at best, to play a word game with voters, pretending to offer something substantive for the uninsured while actually offering nothing. For all practical purposes, he simply lied about what his policy proposals would do.
How many Americans would be left out in the cold under Mr. Romney’s plan? One answer is 89 million. According to the nonpartisan Commonwealth Foundation, that’s the number of Americans who lack the “continuous coverage” that would make them eligible for health insurance under Mr. Romney’s empty promises. By the way, that’s more than a third of the U.S. population under 65 years old.
Another answer is 45 million, the estimated number of people who would have health insurance if Mr. Obama were re-elected, but would lose it if Mr. Romney were to win.
That estimate reflects two factors. First, Mr. Romney proposes repealing the Affordable Care Act, which means doing away with all the ways in which that law would help tens of millions of Americans who either have pre-existing conditions or can’t afford health insurance for other reasons. Second, Mr. Romney is proposing drastic cuts in Medicaid — basically to save money that he could use to cut taxes on the wealthy — which would deny essential health care to millions more Americans. (And, no, despite what he has said, you can’t get the care you need just by going to the emergency room.)
Wait, it gets worse. The true number of victims from Mr. Romney’s health proposals would be much larger than either of these numbers, for a couple of reasons.
One is that Medicaid doesn’t just provide health care to Americans too young for Medicare; it also pays for nursing care and other necessities for many older Americans.
Also, many Americans have health insurance but live under the continual threat of losing it. Obamacare would eliminate this threat, but Mr. Romney would bring it back and make it worse. Safety nets don’t just help people who actually fall, they make life more secure for everyone who might fall. But Mr. Romney would take that security away, not just on health care but across the board.
What about the claim made by a Romney adviser after the debate that states could step in to guarantee coverage for pre-existing conditions? That’s nonsense on many levels. For one thing, Mr. Romney wants to eliminate restrictions on interstate insurance sales, depriving states of regulatory power. Furthermore, if all you do is require that insurance companies cover everyone, healthy people will wait until they’re sick to sign up, leading to sky-high premiums. So you need to couple regulations on insurers with a requirement that everyone have insurance. And, to make that feasible, you have to offer insurance subsidies to lower-income Americans, which have to be paid for at a federal level.
And what you end up with is — precisely — the health reform President Obama signed into law.
One could wish that Mr. Obama had made this point effectively in the debate. He had every right to jump up and say, “There you go again”: Not only was Mr. Romney’s claim fundamentally dishonest, it has already been extensively debunked, and the Romney campaign itself has admitted that it’s false.
For whatever reason, the president didn’t do that, on health care or on anything else. But, as I said, never mind the theater criticism. The fact is that Mr. Romney tried to mislead the public, and he shouldn’t be allowed to get away with it.
By: Paul Krugman, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, October 4, 2012