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During the first presidential debate in Denver, Colorado Romney managed to tell 27 myths in his 38 minutes of speaking time. But at his second encounter with Obama in New York, the GOP presidential candidate — who has run a post-truth campaign from day one — outdid himself and crammed 31 myths in 41 minutes:
1) “I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing. We’re also going to have our loan program, so that people are able to afford school.” Paul Ryan’s budget could cut Pell Grants for nearly 1 million college students and even Romney’s white paper on education, “A Chance for Every Child,” suggests that he “would reverse the growth in Pell Grant funding.” It says: “A Romney Administration will refocus Pell Grant dollars on the students that need them most and place the program on a responsible long-term path that avoids future funding cliffs and last-minute funding patches.”
2) “I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years 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.
3) “And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent.” 14 percent is a one-year number. “Overall, oil production on federal land under Obama is up from 566 million barrels in 2008 to 626 million barrels in 2011, a 10.6 percent increase.” Compared to the last three years of President Bush, there have been 241 million more barrels of oil produced from public lands in the first three years of Obama.
4) “Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.” There are slightly fewer permits in 2009 and 2010, from between 8,000-9,000 permits to over 5,000, and they have not been cut by half. The oil and gas industry is sitting on 7,000 approved permits to drill, where it hasn’t begun exploring or developing. Two-thirds of “acreage leased by [oil] industry lies idle” on public lands, according to the Department of the Interior.
5) “I believe very much in our renewable capabilities; ethanol, wind, solar will be an important part of our energy mix.” Romney is actually against a one-year renewal of the wind production tax credit. The wind production tax credit has led to $14 billion of investment in 2011 and tens of thousands of American jobs.
6) “And coal, coal production is not up; coal jobs are not up.” 1,500 coal jobs have been created under Obama.
7) “And if we do that, if we do what I’m planning on doing, which is getting us energy independent, North America energy independence within eight years.” Romney would actually eliminate 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.
8) “I will fight to create more energy in this country, to get America energy secure. And part of that is bringing in a pipeline of oil from Canada.” Even with generous assumptions, the impact of the pipeline on oil prices is unclear and may raise prices in midwest states. After all, a lot of that refined tar sands crude will be sold on the international market.
9) “The proof of whether a [energy] strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more.” Gas prices are certainly high, but oil is a global commodity, and the president has virtually no control over them. And according to the Congressional Budget Office, Romney’s proposal to increase domestic oil production would not have much impact on volatility.
10) “And I will not — I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class.” As the Tax Policy Center concluded, Romney’s plan can’t both exempt middle class families from tax cuts and remain revenue neutral. “He’s promised all these things and he can’t do them all. In order for him to cover the cost of his tax cut without adding to the deficit, he’d have to find a way to raise taxes on middle income people or people making less than $200,000 a year,” the Center found.
11) “But your rate comes down and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier.” This would actually help very few Americans. Nearly three-fourths of households that make $200,000 or less annually would get literally nothing from Romney’s tax cut, due to the simple fact that most of those households have no capital gains income. To be exact, 73.9 percent of the households upon which Romney “focused” his tax cut will see zero benefit from it.
12) “A recent study has shown the people in the middle-class will see $4,000.00 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.” Romney is pointing to this study from the American Enterprise Institute. It actually found that rather than raise taxes to pay down the debt, the Obama administration’s policies — those contained directly in his budget — would reduce the share of taxes that go toward servicing the debt by $1,289.89 per taxpayer in the $100,000 to $200,000 range.
13) “Fifty-four percent of America’s workers work in businesses that are taxed as individuals. So when you bring those rates down, those small businesses are able to keep more money and hire more people.” Far less than half of the people affected by the expiration of the upper income tax cuts get any of their income at all from a small businesses. And those people could very well be receiving speaking fees or book royalties, which qualify as “small business income” but don’t have a direct impact on job creation. It’s actually hard to find a small business who think that they will be hurt if the marginal tax rate on income earned above $250,000 per year is increased.
14) “I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women. I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.” Romney did not ask women groups for candidates. Instead, prior to his election, a “bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government.” They “put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions” and presented it to Romney after he was elected. A UMass-Boston study found that “the percentage of senior-level appointed positions held by women actually declined throughout the Romney administration, from 30.0% prior to his taking office, to 29.7% in July 2004, to 27.6% near the end of his term in November 2006.”
15) “I’m going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.” Romney has been uncomfortably silent on the issue of pay equity. He has refused to say whether he’d support the Paycheck Fairness Act, a bill that would allow women to sue for equal pay, and named four of the justices who voted to roll back equal pay in that Supreme Court decision as his models for any of his appointments to the federal bench.
16) “I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.” But back in March, Romney expressed strong support for the so-called Blunt amendment, which that would allow employers to deny contraception coverage to women. Romney also wants to defund Planned Parenthood, where 76 percent of the patients seek low-cost birth control options. Defunding the organization would make it much harder for those women to obtain contraceptives.
17) “So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And — and I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommend and ultimately what happened.” This is false. As Buisnessweek explains: Romney “opposed any use of taxpayer dollars to bail out the automakers, advice that President George W. Bush and Obama ignored. GM and Chrysler went through managed bankruptcies after Bush, at the end of his presidency, and later Obama provided federal funds.” “Without federal funds, GM and Chyrsler would not have survived. As former Bush aide Tony Fratto explained, “It wasn’t just that there wasn’t credit available; a lot of private equity had cash, they just weren’t giving it away.”
18) “He said that by now middle-income families would have a reduction in their health insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. It’s gone up by $2,500 a year.” Premiums have increased, though at a lower rate than before. And while the Affordable Care Act’s most important cost contentment strategies have yet to be implemented, the law is already lowering costs. 16 million seniors have received preventive benefits without deductibles or co-pays and are saving at least $3.9 billion on prescription drugs. Millions of young adults now have insurance coverage and are staying on their parent’s health care plan, insurers that spend too many premium dollars on administrative spending have refunded consumers, and states have successfully rejected dramatic premium increases.
19) “He keeps saying, ‘Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.’ That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country.” Job creation is net positive since Obama took office in the middle of the worst recession since the great depression. Economists estimate that up to 3 million jobs were created by the stimulus alone.
20) “The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States and military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident.” But Romney has promised to end President Obama’s deferred action directive, which saves some young undocumented immigrants from deportation, though he would not take away visas from people who had already received them. He has also promised to veto the DREAM Act.
21) “Now, when the president ran for office, he said that he’d put in place, in his first year, a piece of legislation — he’d file a bill in his first year that would reform our — our immigration system… He didn’t do it. He had a Democrat House and Democrat Senate, supermajority in both houses.” Senate Republicans repeatedly prevented Obama’s immigration reform efforts. The GOP actually blocked the DREAM Act from securing 60 votes to pass cloture, denying hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants a path to legal status if they enrolled in college or joined the military. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) even said on the Senate floor that young people lobbying his office had wasted their time.
22) “Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in — in Chinese companies.” Romney’s blind trust is not very blind, and includes investments in a company owned by Romney’s son.
23) “It was a terrorist attack and it took a long time for that to be told to the American people.” Obama called the Libya incident an act of “terror” the very next day. “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the values that we stand for,” he said. “Today we mourn four more Americans who represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act. And make no mistake, justice will be done.”
24) “Consider the distance between ourselves and — and Israel, the president said that — that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.” The 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].”
25) “The president’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour and — and — and pursue a strategy of leading from behind, and this strategy is unraveling before our very eyes.” Obama never embarked on an “apology tour.”
26) “We, of course, don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.” Automatic weapons are legal in this country.
27) “The — the greatest failure we’ve had with regards to — to gun violence in some respects is what — what is known as Fast and Furious. Which was a program under this administration, and how it worked exactly I think we don’t know precisely, where thousands of automatic, and AK-47 type weapons were — were given to people that ultimately gave them to — to drug lords.” The Justice Department’s inspector general “issued a scathing critique of federal officials for their handling of the botched gun-trafficking case,” but “exonerated Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., whom many Republicans have blamed for the scandal.”
28) “What I will do as president is make sure it’s more attractive to come to America again.” Romney’s plan to move the country to a territorial tax system would let corporations do business and make profits overseas without ever being taxed on it in the U.S. This would encourage American companies to invest abroad, potentially costing the country up to 800,000 jobs.
29) “Canada’s tax rate on companies is now 15 percent. Ours is 35 percent. So if you’re starting a business, where would you rather start it? We have to be competitive if we’re going to create more jobs here.” The U.S. is raising historically low amounts of revenue from the corporate income tax, and it already has the second lowest effective corporate tax rate in the world. U.S. corporations are taxed less than their foreign rivals, and the U.S. effective corporate tax rate is low compared to other developed economies.
30) “And there’s no question but that Obamacare has been an extraordinary deterrent to enterprises of all kinds hiring people.” Under the law, only companies with more than 50 employees must provide health insurance or pay a fine — that’s just 2.6 percent of businesses. If anything, expanding health care coverage to more Americans will actually create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.
31) “He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy.” The possibility of Medicare going bankrupt is — and historically has been — greatly exaggerated. In fact, if no changes are made, Medicare would still be able to meet 88 percent of its obligations in 2085. Social Security is fully funded for another two decades and could pay 75 percent of its benefits thereafter. There is also an easy way to ensure the program’s long-term solvency without large changes or cuts to benefits.