Last night’s debate for the remaining presidential candidates offered Mitt Romney a chance to try to turn his campaign around. He hasn’t had much luck lately, and confidence in his candidacy has been badly shaken, especially after Romney turned a double-digit lead in South Carolina into a double-digit defeat.
But one of the former governor’s more disconcerting qualities is his reliance on falsehoods to get back in the game.
I won’t fact-check every claim from the debate, but there were some doozies that should, if honesty in politics had more meaning, cause Romney and his team some headaches. He claimed Dodd-Frank was hurting community banks, but that’s not true. He said he never advocated for a national health care mandate, and that’s false, too. He repeated his misleading claim about the size of the U.S. Navy; he claimed not to have received an inheritance; and he claims his private-equity firm never did any work with the government. All of these claims are deceptive, if not demonstrably wrong.
The most irksome, though, was this claim:
“We have $15 trillion of debt. We’re headed to a, to a Greece- type collapse, and he adds another trillion on top for Obamacare and for his stimulus plan that didn’t create private-sector jobs. This president has failed.”
This is an important part of Romney’s indictment against the president, so it’s worth unpacking it a bit. Let’s take this one claim at a time.
* It’s true we have $15 trillion in debt, but the biggest chunk comes from Bush-era tax breaks. Romney wanted to make them permanent.
* Anyone who seriously believes U.S. fiscal challenges are in any way similar to Greece is a fool.
* The Affordable Care Act doesn’t add to the debt, it cuts the debt by hundreds of billions of dollars.
* The stimulus created millions of private-sector jobs. Indeed, take a look at private-sector job growth since the start of the recession:
Since March 2010, the U.S. economy has added 3.1 million private-sector jobs. Even playing by Republican rules, that’s 3.1 million more than zero.
And as for whether President Obama has “failed,” Mitt Romney has argued repeatedly this month that under Obama, the economy has “gotten better.” That sounds to me like the opposite of failure.
I’m not optimistic this will ever happen, but Romney’s penchant for dishonesty in high-profile settings deserves to be a story unto itself.