Chronicling Mitt's Mendacity

UPDATED: Tuesday, August 7, 2012 14:27
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Tuesday, August 7, 2012 9:33 AM


Gettin' old, but still a hippie at heart...

This is something that I've been seeing for quite some time, and which has me shaking my head in amazement:

Some Republican governors this year asked the Obama administration for some new flexibility on welfare standards -- the governors had some ideas about moving folks from welfare to work and needed the White House to sign off. Obama agreed -- existing work requirements would stay in place, but states, if they want to, can take advantage of new flexibility when it comes to experimenting with existing law.

This is the sort of shifting-power-to-the-states policy that Republicans are supposed to love. As of this morning, however, it's the basis for a new Mitt Romney attack ad. It's important to realize this is as dishonest an ad as you'll ever see -- in 2012 or in any other campaign cycle.

For those who can't watch clips online, the ad shows President Clinton signing welfare reform into law in 1996, "requiring work for welfare." The spot then argues, however, that President Obama "quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements." The voiceover tells viewers, "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.... and welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare."

We then learn, "Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works."

Romney's lying. He's not spinning the truth to his advantage; he's not hiding in a gray area between fact and fiction; he's just lying. The law hasn't been "gutted"; the work requirement hasn't been "dropped." Stations that air this ad are disseminating an obvious, demonstrable lie.

All Obama did is agree to Republican governors' request for flexibility. That's it. Indeed, perhaps the most jaw-dropping aspect of this is that Romney himself, during his one gubernatorial term, asked for the same kind of flexibility on welfare law that Obama agreed to last month. Romney, in other words, is attacking the president for doing what Romney asked the executive branch to do in 2005.

The entire line of attack is simply insane.

How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame? This lie about welfare policy comes on the heels of Romney's lie about voting rights in Ohio:

On Thursday, August 2nd, published some tripe about President Obama making it harder for Ohio’s military voters to vote. On Friday, in Las Vegas, a report asked Mitt Romney his reaction to the Obama campaign’s “filing suit in Ohio to try to reduce early voting by a few days for military living overseas and some American civilians living overseas.” On Saturday, Mitt Romney posted this on FB…

“President Obama’s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period is an outrage. The brave men and women of our military make tremendous sacrifices to protect and defend our freedoms, and we should do everything we can to protect their fundamental right to vote. I stand with the fifteen military groups that are defending the rights of military voters, and if I’m entrusted to be the commander-in-chief, I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.”

In that statement, Mitt Romney is clearly claiming that the Obama campaign is seeking to restrict military voting in Ohio. rates that claim as FALSE. PolitiFact Ohio rates that claim as FALSE.

On Saturday, August 4th Obama for America Veterans and Military Family Vote Director Rob Diamond issued the following statement…

“Mitt Romney and his campaign have completely fabricated a claim that the Obama campaign is trying to restrict military voting in Ohio. In fact, the opposite is true: the Obama campaign filed a lawsuit to make sure every Ohioan, including military members and their families, has early voting rights over the last weekend prior to the election. The case filed with the court could not be clearer on this point. The real story of what is happening in the Buckeye State is that Mitt Romney supports the Republican effort to stop people from voting by restricting their access to the polls. In 2008, more than 93,000 Ohioans utilized early voting in the three days before the election. In complete disregard of the will of Ohio voters expressed last year through the referendum process, the Republican legislature is attempting to remove from the vast majority of voters — including veterans of our armed services — the early voting rights they enjoyed in 2008. This latest Republican attack on rights of voters is shameful — and so is Mitt Romney’s endorsement of it.”

Today is the 47th anniversary of the voting rights act. How disgusting that on this day, a man who wants to be President of the United States would support legislation that makes it harder for people, including veterans, to exercise their right to vote? He’s even willing to blatantly lie in order to hide what the GOP in Ohio is trying to do. If you need better background in order understand what’s happening, here are some frequently asked questions…

What happened to early voting in Ohio?

• In the 2008 presidential election, more than 93,000 Ohioans utilized early voting in the three days before the election.

• Earlier this year, Ohio’s GOP-controlled legislature passed an election reform law that cut off early voting three days before the election.

• More than 300,000 Ohioans signed a petition to secure a referendum on the November 6th ballot in order to repeal this law. Rather than face the referendum, the legislature, at the urging of Republican Secretary of State Jon Husted, decided to repeal the law.

• However, “in an unusual turn of events,” Ohio Republicans managed to keep a technical provision of the bill that shortens the early voting process and eliminates the last three days of early voting for all citizens except military personnel and their families.

What does that mean for voters?

In addition to reducing Ohioans’ access to the polls, the legislature created inequality between military voters who can cast early ballots in person through the day before the election and all other voters who only have until 6 p.m. on the Friday before the election to vote in-person absentee.

Why is there a lawsuit?

These restrictions are a violation of the equal protection guarantees in the U.S. Constitution. The lawsuit seeks to make sure that all Ohioans, including military members and their families, can exercise their right to vote early. “This lawsuit seeks to treat all Ohio citizens equally under the law,” said Obama for America attorney Bob Bauer. “We want to restore the right of all to vote before Election Day.”

The facts show that Romney’s claim about restricting military voting is a blatant distortion. The purpose of the lawsuit is to ensure that every Ohioan—including military voters—has the right to make their voices heard at the polls.

which came on the heels of Romney's lies about the economy

Asked about his lack of specific ideas on the economy, Romney argued, "I don't think I've seen any from the president that -- that show what he's planning on doing."

Romney doesn't have to like the American Jobs Act, but he shouldn't get away with brazenly lying about its existence.

which came on the heels of Romney's lies about health care

On health care, Romney said, "We also have to make sure that people with pre-existing conditions don't have to be denied care."

At a minimum, that's wildly misleading. Under Romney's approach, millions of people with pre-existing conditions would be denied coverage -- and occasionally his campaign even admits it. And what happens to people who enter the insurance market already suffering from a pre-existing condition?

[A statement from the Romney campaign] confirms that under a Romney presidency, there would be no federal prohibition barring health insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions.

Romney's policy "does not immediately address people who have never had private health insurance, or who have had insurance but spent some time without, often because of financial circumstances and unemployment."

which came on the heels of Romney's lies about taxes

Complaining about Democrats, Romney said, "[O]ur friends across the aisle and the president, they have a different view. They think, well we should just raise taxes, that's the primary way they think we should cut the deficit."

Actually, in 2011, when Democrats offered Republicans a massive debt-reduction deal, the "primary way" they closed the budget gap was through spending cuts.

and In an interview with Fox's Sean Hannity, Romney claimed, "That's one of the first principles of my plan, which is, high-income people will continue to pay the same share of taxes they pay today."

That's not true. The wealthy would receive a massive, disproportionate tax break under the Romney plan. Where taxes are concerned, there are just too many lies to detail here.

The Republican nominee for president is working under the assumption that he can make transparently false claims, in writing and in campaign advertising, with impunity. Romney is convinced that there are no consequences for breathtaking dishonesty.

The test, then, comes down to a simple question: is he right?

The cynical response is that the lies are routine -- it's just something "everybody" in politics does. That's wrong. An ad this dishonest is a genuine scandal and it's time for political observers treat it as such. Reporters within earshot of the candidate shouldn't ask, "What about the gaffes?" They should ask, "Why are you lying about welfare policy?"

That's been my question all along...not about just welfare policy, but why Romney and his camp have been able to quite transparently lie again and again--not just twist the facts or omit something, but LIE blatantly. I agree that the argument "everybody does it" doesn't hold water; rarely to politicians lie as blatantly as Romney has done over and over and over. It's a new low in politics, and Romney is setting a horrible precedent, in my opinion, yet he's getting away with it, again and again and again. Is his base SO stupid, or SO hateful of Obama that they don't care? Why is the media letting him get away with it? Has the Republican party become so subverted that they're willing to watch this go on silently? It doesn't bode well for the future; these lies hit a new low in politics, and if he gets away with it, others will follow his example. I find this truly disgusting, and it has bothered me for a long time now.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012 2:27 PM


Keep the Shiny side up


Originally posted by Niki2:
How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame?

I don't know. How do you?

"Harry Reid says anonymous source told him Mitt Romney didn't pay taxes for 10 years

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., touched off a firestorm last week after he claimed that an unnamed investor in Mitt Romney’s company, Bain Capital, told him that Romney hadn’t paid any taxes for 10 years.

In a July 31, 2012, interview with the Huffington Post, Reid attacked Romney for refusing to publicly release tax returns prior to 2010. Reid said, "His poor father must be so embarrassed about his son," referring to George Romney's decision to release 12 years of tax returns when he ran for president in the late 1960s.

Reid told the website that about a month earlier, a person who had invested with Bain Capital called his office and said, "Harry, he didn't pay any taxes for 10 years."

Reid continued, "He didn't pay taxes for 10 years! Now, do I know that that's true? Well, I'm not certain," said Reid. "But obviously he can't release those tax returns. How would it look? … You guys have said his wealth is $250 million. Not a chance in the world. It's a lot more than that. I mean, you do pretty well if you don't pay taxes for 10 years when you're making millions and millions of dollars."

On Aug. 2, Reid repeated the allegation on the Senate floor, saying, "As we know, he has refused to release his tax returns. If a person coming before this body wanted to be a Cabinet officer, he couldn't be if he had the same refusal Mitt Romney does about tax returns. So the word is out that he has not paid any taxes for 10 years. Let him prove he has paid taxes, because he has not."

And later that day, Reid tripled down on the accusation, releasing a statement that said in part, "I was told by an extremely credible source that Romney has not paid taxes for 10 years."

Romney and his allies pushed back hard against the accusation, saying it was not only substantively incorrect but also ethically out of bounds.

"Harry Reid really has to put up or shut up," Romney said following a speech in North Las Vegas, Nev., according to CBS News. Romney added, "Let me also say, categorically, I have paid taxes every year -- and a lot of taxes. So Harry is simply wrong. And that is why I am so anxious for him to give us the names of the people who put this forward. I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear the names are people from the White House or the Obama campaign."

Other Republicans leaped to Romney’s defense, including Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., (who told CNN’s State of the Union that "I think he’s lying") and Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, who called Reid a "dirty liar" on ABC’s This Week.

Outside commentators, including liberals, have slammed Reid as well. The New York Times’ Frank Bruni called Reid’s charges part of an "unbecoming, corrosive game." "Spew first and sweat the details later, or never," Bruni wrote. "Speak loosely and carry a stick-thin collection of backup materials, or none at all. That’s the M.O. of the moment, familiar from the past but in particularly galling and profuse flower of late."

Many readers asked us to put Reid’s claim to the Truth-O-Meter. We conclude that Reid, despite repeating the claim on at least two occasions, has not produced any solid evidence it is true.

An anonymous source?

On Aug. 6, a Reid spokesman confirmed to PolitiFact that the majority leader still maintains the information came from the anonymous Bain investor. Our Truth-O-Meter guidelines say we hold officials accountable to back up their words. By those standards, Reid has not proven his allegation.

Still, we wondered how likely it was that Romney didn’t pay taxes for 10 years.

In an Internal Revenue Service study of nearly 4 million 2009 tax returns of filers reporting more than $200,000 in adjusted gross income, 20,752 of these taxpayers -- or just 0.529 percent -- had no U.S. income tax liability. About half of those did have income tax liability in other countries.

But Romney’s recent income has been substantially higher than $200,000, meaning that the size of his deductions and credits would need to be even larger than for many of those included in this IRS study if his tax liability was going to fall to zero. According to the one full return he’s released, for tax year 2010, he and his wife Ann reported an adjusted gross income of $21.6 million and paid taxes of about $3 million. He's also released an estimate of his 2011 taxes, which showed income of $20.9 million and a tax payment of $3.2 million.

To gauge tax patterns for even higher-income earners, the best we can do is to look at another IRS study detailing the taxes paid by the top 400 earners in the nation in 2008. To make this list, you would have to have earned roughly $109 million that year. Among those 400 top taxpayers, 30 -- or 7.5 percent -- had an effective tax rate of between 0 and 10 percent. Given how the statistics are calculated, it’s impossible to know how many paid no taxes, but it’s safe to assume it’s well below 7.5 percent.

Neither study directly addresses Romney’s situation -- he falls somewhere in the middle of the two studies -- but the data does show that for earners both below and above him, it's unlikely they paid zero taxes for one year, and it’s even more far-fetched to think they did so for 10 years. -- which is generally considered a liberal media outlet, thus no friend to Romney -- asked two tax experts whether they thought it was likely that Romney paid no taxes for 10 years. They concluded, "probably not."

The article quoted David Miller, a tax attorney with the firm Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft in New York, saying it’s "highly unlikely" that he paid nothing.

"It would be easier for someone like Steve Jobs to pay zero, as most of his wealth was in company stock, which isn’t taxed until sold and may never be sold," Miller told Salon. The Salon article continued, "But Romney’s arrangement with Bain is different. He would have earned management fees, and when Bain sold the underlying companies that it invested in, Romney would have been subject to tax on his share. 'It’s possible he paid very little in taxes, but I find it hard to believe that he paid none,' Miller said."

Salon also quoted Joshua Kamerman, a lawyer and CPA in New York, who said while it’s theoretically possible, it’s also "preposterous."

"Charitable donations can shield up to only 50 percent of tax liability, while other means can lower the rate," the article said. "But to pay nothing, Romney would have to sustain business operating losses, Kamerman said. The IRS lets people carry over losses for up to 20 years until they make a profit from which to deduct them. But Kamerman said this is almost certainly not the case for Romney."

We asked Lawrence J. White, an economist at the Stern School of Business at New York University, for his view, and he concurred with Miller and Kamerman. "I agree that it's extremely unlikely that Mr. Romney paid no income taxes for 10 years," White said.

Our ruling

Reid has said Romney paid no taxes for 10 years. It was no slip of the tongue. He repeated the claim on at least two more occasions, at one point saying that "the word is out" when in fact it was only Reid who put that "word" out.

Reid has produced no evidence to back up his claim other than attribution to a shadowy anonymous source. Romney has denied the claim, and tax experts back him up, saying that the nature of Romney's investments in Bain make it highly unlikely he would have been able to avoid paying taxes altogether -- especially for 10 years.

Reid has made an extreme claim with nothing solid to back it up. Pants on Fire! "






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