Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney rehashed at least seven previously debunked claims during the October 22 presidential debate, including the phony talking point that Obama went on an apology tour. Romney's dishonesty, now apparent in the third straight debate, continues to present a challenge to the media.
Romney Campaign Dismissed Fact-Checkers
Romney Surrogate: "We're Not Going [To] Let Our Campaign Be Dictated By Fact-Checkers." During an ABC News/Yahoo! News event at the Republican National Convention, Romney pollster Neil Newhouse suggested fact-checkers were biased and stated: "We're not going [to] let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." From ABCNews.com:
O'Connor said she thought their ad "Right Choice" attacking Obama on welfare reform has been the most effective so far, despite its being given "Four Pinnochios" by a Washington Post fact check.
Newhouse brushed off the fact check as par for the course in political campaigns.
"People are always going to get Pinocchios for this stuff," Newhouse said. "We stand behind those ads and behind the facts in those ads."
Newhouse suggested the problem was with the fact-checkers, not the facts themselves: "Fact-checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs and you know what? We're not going let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers." [ABCNews.com, 8/28/12]
ROMNEY LIE: Tax Plan Will Create 12 Million Jobs
Romney: "I Know What It Takes To Create 12 Million New Jobs." During the October 22 presidential debate, Mitt Romney said that he "know[s] what it takes to create 12 million new jobs":
ROMNEY: 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. And what we've seen over the last four years is something I don't want to see over the next four years. [The New York Times, 10/22/12]
Wash. Post Fact Checker: Math Underlying Romney's Claim "Doesn't Add Up." Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler wrote that the math underlying Romney's claim "doesn't add up," calling it a "bait-and-switch" that fudges timelines, and quoted Glenn Hubbard, one of Romney's chief economic advisers, acknowledging as much. [The Washington Post, 10/16/12]
Wash. Post's Klein: Romney's Jobs Claim Relies On "Misreading Studies To Get To A Number That's Pretty Easy To Reach." In an October 16 entry on his Washington Post blog, Wonkblog, Ezra Klein criticized Romney's claim for relying on dubious assertions and setting a goal economists say the economy is already on track to meet. Klein noted that Romney employs "a lot of misreading studies to get to a number that's pretty easy to reach." Klein explained: "Romney's claim of 12 million jobs over four years breaks down to 7 million jobs over 10 years in an economy that's already at full employment, 3 million jobs over eight years that have nothing to do with any of Romney's policies, and 2 million jobs if China suddenly became very, very respectful of U.S. intellectual property laws." [Wonkblog, The Washington Post, 10/16/12]
ROMNEY LIE: Obama Said We'd Be At 5.4 Percent Unemployment By Now
Romney: "The President Said By Now We'd Be At 5.4 Percent Unemployment." Romney said that Obama promised we'd be at 5.4 percent unemployment at this point in his presidency:
ROMNEY: The -- the president said by now we'd be at 5.4 percent unemployment. We're 9 million jobs short of that. I will get America working again and see rising take-home pay again. [The New York Times, 10/22/12]
Sub-8 Percent Figures Were Projected Figures, Not A Guarantee. According to PolitiFact, the claim that Obama promised unemployment would stay below 8 percent is "mostly false":
[Congressman Paul] Ryan said the Obama administration promised "unemployment would never get to 8 percent."
Obama didn't say that. Rather, his Council of Economic Advisers predicted that the stimulus would hold it to that level. Their report included heavy disclaimers that the projections had "significant margins of error" and a high degree of uncertainty due to a recession that is "unusual both in its fundamental causes and its severity."
The sub-8 percent prediction did not hold true, but it's still incorrect to characterize it as a promise or guarantee. [PolitiFact, 10/22/12]
FactCheck.Org: "Romney Is Referring To A Speculative Report" Based On Models That "Underestimated The Depths Of the Recession." Also from FactCheck.org:
Romney says Obama "said by now [unemployment] would be down to 5.4 percent." But Romney is referring to a speculative report issued at the beginning of Obama's presidency containing projections -- not promises. Those projections relied on prevailing economic models that quickly proved to have underestimated the depths of the recession at that time. [FactCheck.org, 9/20/12, via Media Matters, 10/17/12]
ROMNEY LIE: Obama Has Been Silent On Iran
ROMNEY: In Iran, "The President Was Silent." During the debate, Romney claimed that "when there were dissidents in the streets of Tehran, ... the president was silent." [The New York Times, 10/22/12]
Wash. Post's Kessler: Obama Not Quite "Silent" On Iran. Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler wrote that Romney's claim that Obama was "silent" on Iranian protests "is not quite correct":
Mitt Romney said that Obama was "silent" on the protests in Iran but that is not quite correct.
Obama's response was initially muted -- in part out of caution and also because he was preserving the ability to relaunch negotiations over Iran's nuclear program. It is important to remember than in Iran's complex political system, Iran's president is not the key figure. Instead, it is a religious leader, the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
Obama finally toughened his stance a week later, on June 23, after more violence erupted.
"The United States and the international community have been appalled and outraged by the threats, the beatings and imprisonments of the last few days," Obama said. "I strongly condemn these unjust actions, and I join with the American people in mourning each and every innocent life that is lost." [The Washington Post, 10/22/12]
ROMNEY LIE: I Would Have Saved Detroit
Romney: "I Would Do Nothing To Hurt The U.S. Auto Industry." Romney claimed during the debate that he would "do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry":
ROMNEY: [T]he president mentioned the auto industry and that somehow I would be in favor of jobs being elsewhere. Nothing could be further from the truth. I'm a son of Detroit. I was born in Detroit. My dad was head of a car company. I like American cars. And I would do nothing to hurt the U.S. auto industry. [The New York Times, 10/22/12]
Romney Advocated For "Post-Bankruptcy Financing" For Auto Companies. In a November 2008 New York Times op-ed, Mitt Romney advocated for "post-bankruptcy financing" for the auto-companies:
The American auto industry is vital to our national interest as an employer and as a hub for manufacturing. A managed bankruptcy may be the only path to the fundamental restructuring the industry needs. It would permit the companies to shed excess labor, pension and real estate costs. The federal government should provide guarantees for post-bankruptcy financing and assure car buyers that their warranties are not at risk.
In a managed bankruptcy, the federal government would propel newly competitive and viable automakers, rather than seal their fate with a bailout check. [The New York Times, 11/18/12]
Automotive Economist: Private Bankruptcy For Automakers Would Not Have Been Possible Because Credit Markets Were Frozen. Reuters reported that supporters of Romney "point out that airlines and other large businesses have been able to reorganize in bankruptcy without government help." Reuters continued:
"There were two ways to do it - either use crony capitalism, where government picks the winners and losers, or you go through the traditional reorganization process," said Saul Anuzis, a Romney supporter and former head of the Michigan Republican Party.
Sean McAlinden, chief economist at the Center for Automotive Research, or CAR, said there was one problem with that argument: a private bankruptcy for automakers would not have been possible during the 2008-2009 financial crisis because credit markets were frozen and GM and Chrysler were unable to get private financing to keep operating through bankruptcy.
Without federal help, the companies could have been forced to shut down, which would have devastated parts suppliers and threatened solvent carmakers such as Ford and Toyota, McAlinden said.
The intervention saved 1.3 million jobs in 2009, CAR estimates.
"It was the most successful peacetime industrial intervention in U.S. history," McAlinden said. [Reuters, 2/10/12]
The Economist: "The Credit Markets Were Bone-Dry, Making The Privately Financed Bankruptcy ... Improbable." Robert McShane, The Economist online U.S. editor, wrote:
Following the bail-outs, the president eventually forced Chrysler and GM into bankruptcy, a step Mr Romney thought should occur naturally. And the government oversaw painful restructurings at both companies, which were largely in line with Mr Romney's broad suggestions. But the course Mr Romney recommended in 2008 began with the government stepping back, and it is unlikely things would've turned out so well had this happened.
Free-marketeers that we are, The Economist agreed with Mr Romney at the time. But we later apologised for that position. "Had the government not stepped in, GM might have restructured under normal bankruptcy procedures, without putting public money at risk", we said. But "given the panic that gripped private purse-strings...it is more likely that GM would have been liquidated, sending a cascade of destruction through the supply chain on which its rivals, too, depended." Even Ford, which avoided bankruptcy, feared the industry would collapse if GM went down. At the time that seemed like a real possibility. The credit markets were bone-dry, making the privately financed bankruptcy that Mr Romney favoured improbable. He conveniently ignores this bit of history in claiming to have been right all along. [The Economist, 2/14/12]
Reuters' Wapshott: Romney's Claim That His Auto Industry Plan Is The Same As Obama's Is "Far-Fetched." In an October 17 blog post, Reuters reporter and author Nicholas Wapshott wrote that "Romney's sly suggestion now that you can't slip a cigarette paper between his [auto bailout] plan and Obama's is, to put it politely, far-fetched." [Reuters, 10/17/12]
ROMNEY LIE: Obama Went On An "Apology Tour"
Romney: Obama Has Gone On "What I've Called An Apology Tour." During the debate, Romney repeated the debunked lie that Obama has apologized for America:
ROMNEY: I think from the very beginning, one of the challenges we've had with Iran is that they have looked at this administration and -- and felt that the administration was not as strong as it needed to be. I think they saw weakness where they had expected to find American strength.
And I say that because from the very beginning, the president, in his campaign some four years ago, said he'd meet with all the world's worst actors in his first year. He'd -- he'd sit down with Chavez and -- and Kim Jong-Il, with Castro and with -- with President Ahmadinejad of -- of Iran. And -- and I think they looked and thought, well, that's an unusual honor to receive from the president of the United States.
And then the president began what I've called an apology tour of going to -- to various nations in the Middle East and -- and criticizing America. I think they looked at that and saw weakness. [The New York Times, 10/22/12]
NY Times: Obama "Never Said He Was Sorry For American Values Or Diplomacy." During the debate, the New York Times debunked the idea that Obama has apologized for America, writing:
News organizations have repeatedly found the claim that Mr. Obama has apologized for American values and principles to be inaccurate.
While Mr. Obama has admitted American failings at times -- and, like President George W. Bush, has apologized for specific acts of American wrongdoing abroad -- he has never explicitly apologized for American values or principles.
Republicans have sought to use a number of excerpts from Mr. Obama's speeches or interviews to make their case that he has. One of the most commonly used is a 2009 speech in France in which Mr. Obama said that "there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive." But critics typically ignore what Mr. Obama said next: "But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad." In other words, Mr. Obama was saying that the United States and Europe had at times each dealt unfairly with each other -- he never said he was sorry for American values or diplomacy. [The New York Times, 10/22/12]
Associated Press: "Obama Has Not Apologized For America." The Associated Press has written that Obama "never made" any apologies and added:
Obama has not apologized for America. What he has done, in travels early in his presidency and since, is to make clear his belief that the U.S. is not beyond reproach. He has told foreigners that the U.S. at times acted "contrary to our traditions and ideals" in its treatment of terrorist suspects, that "America has too often been selective in its promotion of democracy," that the U.S. "certainly shares blame" for international economic turmoil and has sometimes shown arrogance toward allies. Obama, whose criticisms of America's past were typically balanced by praise, was in most cases taking issue with policies or the record of the previous administration, not an unusual approach for a new president -- or a presidential candidate. Romney's actual point seems to be that Obama has been too critical of his country.
But there has been no formal -- or informal -- apology. No saying "sorry" on behalf of America. [Associated Press, 6/3/11]
PolitiFact Has Repeatedly Labeled "Ridiculous" Apology Claim "False." PolitiFact has repeatedly labeled Romney's claim that Obama "apologized" for America "false," saying "it's a ridiculous charge." [PolitiFact, 9/22/11; 1/20/12]
Wash. Post Fact-Checker: "The Apology Tour Never Happened." The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler gave the repeated charge that Obama has apologized for America its worst rating of "Four Pinocchios":
The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United States is not borne out by the facts, especially if his full quotes are viewed in context.
Obama often was trying to draw a rhetorical distinction between his policies and that of President Bush, a common practice when the presidency changes parties. The shift in policies, in fact, might have been more dramatic from Clinton to Bush than from Bush to Obama, given how Obama has largely maintained Bush's approach to fighting terrorism.
In other cases, Obama's quotes have been selectively trimmed for political purposes. Or they were not much different than sentiments expressed by Bush or his secretary of state. Republicans may certainly disagree with Obama's handling of foreign policy or particular policies he has pursued, but they should not invent a storyline that does not appear to exist.
Note to GOP speechwriters and campaign ad makers: The apology tour never happened. [The Washington Post, 2/22/11]
ROMNEY LIE: U.S. Navy Is Smallest Since 1917
Romney: "Our Navy Is Smaller Now Than Any Time Since 1917." During the October 22 debate, Romney repeated his debunked claim that "our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917":
ROMNEY: Our Navy is older -- excuse me -- our Navy is smaller now than any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We're now down to 285. We're headed down to the -- to the low 200s if we go through with sequestration. That's unacceptable to me. I want to make sure that we have the ships that are required by our Navy. [The New York Times, 10/22/12]
In Fact, As PolitiFact Noted, "Counting The Number Of Ships Or Aircraft Is Not A Good Measurement Of Defense Strength." After Romney claimed during a GOP primary debate that our "Navy is smaller than it's been since 1917," PolitiFact ruled the statement "false," noting that the comparison is based simply on the number of vehicles the Navy operates, which is "not a good measurement of defense strength":
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,' " said William W. Stueck, a historian at the University of Georgia.
Consider what types of naval ships were used in 1916 and 2011. The types of ships active in both years, such as cruisers and destroyers, are outfitted today with far more advanced technology than what was available during World War I. More importantly, the U.S. Navy has 11 aircraft carriers (plus the jets to launch from them), 31 amphibious ships, 14 submarines capable of launching nuclear ballistic missiles and four specialized submarines for launching Cruise missiles -- all categories of vessels that didn't exist in 1916.
Romney appears to be using the statistic as a critique of the current administration, while experts tell us that both draw-downs and buildups of military equipment occur over long periods of time and can't be pegged to one president. Put it all together and you have a statement that, despite being close to accurate in its numbers, uses those numbers in service of a ridiculous point. Pants on Fire. [PolitiFact, 1/18/12]
ROMNEY LIE: Repealing Health Care Law Will Reduce Deficit
Romney: Repealing Obamacare Would Reduce The Deficit. During the October 22 debate, Romney claimed the first thing he would do to reduce the deficit would be to repeal the Affordable Care Act:
MR. ROMNEY: Well, let's -- let's come back and talk about the military, but all the way -- all the way through. First of all, I'm going through, from the very beginning, we're going to cut about 5 percent of the discretionary budget excluding military. That's number one. All right?
MR. SCHIEFFER: But can you do this without driving us deeper into debt?
MR. ROMNEY: The good news is, I'll be happy to have you take a look. Come on our website, you'll look at how we get to a balanced budget within eight to 10 years. We do it by getting -- by reducing spending in a whole series of programs. By the way, number one I get rid of is "Obamacare." There are a number of things that sound good but, frankly, we just can't afford them. And that one doesn't sound good, and it's not affordable, so I get rid of that one from day one; to the extent humanly possible, we get that out. We take program after program that we don't absolutely have to have and we get rid of them. [The New York Times, 10/22/12]
NY Times: "Repealing The Health Care Law Would Actually Increase The Federal Deficit." The New York Times fact-checked Romney's claim and found that "repealing the health care law would actually increase the federal deficit":
When Mr. Romney was asked how he would find the money to pay for the increased military spending he seeks, he said: "We do it by getting -- by reducing spending in a whole series of programs. By the way, No. 1 I get rid of is 'Obamacare.' " But repealing the health care law would actually increase the federal deficit.
This summer, after Republicans in the House of Representative passed a bill to repeal the law, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that doing so would increase the federal deficit by $109 billion over the next decade. That is because the parts of the law that would require more spending to expand coverage would be offset by the parts of the law that raise new revenues and curb spending -- including provisions calling to curb the growth of Medicare costs and several new taxes and fees. Repealing the law would also mean that 30 million fewer people would have health insurance in 2022, it projected. [The New York Times, 10/22/12]
Congressional Budget Office: Repealing Obamacare Would Mean "Adding $109 Billion To Federal Budget Deficits" Between 2013-2022. In a letter to House Speaker John Boehner scoring the cost of repealing the Affordable Care Act, the CBO and Joint Committee on Taxation concluded repeal would result in a $109 billion net deficit increase over the 2013-2022 period:
Assuming that H.R. 6079 is enacted near the beginning of fiscal year 2013, CBO and JCT estimate that, on balance, the direct spending and revenue effects of enacting that legislation would cause a net increase in federal budget deficits of $109 billion over the 2013-2022 period. Specifically, we estimate that H.R. 6079 would reduce direct spending by $890 billion and reduce revenues by $1 trillion between 2013 and 2022, thus adding $109 billion to federal budget deficits over that period. [Congressional Budget Office, 7/24/12]