Posted by AzBlueMeanie:
One of the points during last night's debate that struck me was that President Obama seemed taken aback, perhaps even dumbfounded, by the ease with which Willard "Mittens" Romney shamelessly lied about his tax cut plan.
In presidential debates you are not supposed to resort to calling your opponent a liar, and "Mittens" took full advantage of this debate code. Obama did try to rebut his tax lie on the facts, but this does not impress the feckless media villagers who prefer conflict and easy soundbites.
Let's be clear. Romney's tax plan has been scored by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, and they determined that it would cost $5 trillion dollars over ten years. But Romney has artfully refused to specify any of the tax "loopholes" and "deductions" he claims that he will close to make his tax plan "revenue neutral" as he claims. He has a "secret plan" that he will only reveal if and when he is elected. As I have warned you before, never trade for what is behind door number 3 -- it is always a sure loser.
Independent economists have analyzed that even if we were to close all the tax loopholes and limit deductions to the extent that Romney has suggested, it would not even come close to being revenue neutral.
A simple truth: tax cuts do not pay for themselves by increasing economic activity and thus increasing tax revenue. After more than 30 years of experimentation with this conservative economic theory, there is no empirical data to support that tax cuts have paid for themselves. If this were true, the U.S. would be awash in jobs today and have no national debt. It is pure fantasy.
So how did the media villagers address "Mittens" $5 trillion tax cut lie? CNN's John Berman said Obama's charge is "false" if "you take [Romney] at his word." Steve Benen explains in About that $5 trillion tax cut...:
Of course, by that standard, no one, anywhere, has ever lied about anything -- if we take someone at their word, and apply no additional scrutiny, dishonesty is literally impossible.
But those interested in understanding the facts, the policy details are indisputable. As Jonathan Cohn explained overnight:
President Obama repeatedly described Romney's tax plan as a $5 trillion tax plan. Romney repeatedly took exception. The figure is correct. Romney has not given many details about his tax plan, but it's possible to extrapolate from his promises and the Tax Policy Center, a project of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute, did just that. Crunching the numbers, they determined that his proposed rate cut would cost ... $5 trillion.
Last night, Romney simply asserted the figure is wrong, but up until yesterday, the Republican campaign has offered a different defense: the cost will be offset by closing tax loopholes and ending deductions.
This remains problematic, not just because Romney refuses to identify which loopholes and deductions, but because there aren't nearly enough loopholes and deductions to make up the difference.
What's more, in the debate, Romney cited "six other studies" that, according to him support the notion that he can slash tax rates without increasing the deficit or increasing the burden on the middle class. But that's wrong, too: "Those studies actually do not provide much evidence that Romney's proposal -- as sketchy as it is -- would be revenue neutral without making unrealistic assumptions."
Those inclined to "take [Romney] at his word" are living in a fantasy world where calculators don't exist.
The AP (All Propaganda) also takes Romney at his word to say that Obama's charge is "false," despite the facts, in its eternal quest for false equivalency. Fact check: Both candidates stop short of whole truth:
OBAMA: "Governor Romney's central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut - on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, that's another trillion dollars - and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn't asked for. That's $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make, without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans, I think is one of the central questions of this campaign."
THE FACTS: Obama's claim that Romney wants to cut taxes by $5 trillion doesn't add up. Presumably, Obama was talking about the effect of Romney's tax plan over 10 years, which is common in Washington. But Obama's math doesn't take into account Romney's entire plan.
Romney proposes to reduce income tax rates by 20 percent and eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. The Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group, says that would reduce federal tax revenues by $465 billion in 2015, which would add up to about $5 trillion over 10 years.
However, Romney says he wants to pay for the tax cuts by reducing or eliminating tax credits, deductions and exemptions. The goal is a simpler tax code that raises the same amount of money as the current system but does it in a more efficient manner.
The knock on Romney's plan, which Obama accurately cited, is that Romney has refused to say which tax breaks he would eliminate to pay for the lower rates.
So for the AP, Obama's claim is "false" even though it is accurate. Say what? The AP has to disregard the facts to come to its conclusion based upon taking Romney at his word.
The Washington Post's fact checker Glenn Kessler injects his subjective opinion to also give Romney a pass, despite acknowledging the facts. Fact Check This: Statements in the first debate:
“Governor Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut — on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts — that’s another trillion dollars”
— President Obama
“I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut”
— Governor Romney
How can both facts be true? The $5 trillion figure comes from the fact that Romney has proposed to cut tax rates by 20 percent and eliminate the estate tax and alternative minimum tax. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center says that would reduce tax revenue by nearly $500 billion in 2015, or about $5 trillion over 10 years.
But Romney also has said he will make his plan “revenue neutral” by eliminating tax loopholes and deductions, although he has not provided the details.
The Tax Policy Center has analyzed the specifics of Romney’s plan thus far released and concluded that the numbers aren’t there to make it revenue neutral.
In the debate, Romney countered that “six other studies” have found that not to be the case, but he’s wrong about that. Those studies actually do not provide much evidence that Romney’s proposal — as sketchy as it is — would be revenue neutral without making unrealistic assumptions.
Given the uncertainty, the Obama campaign has assumed the worst about Romney’s plan — that it would mean higher taxes for middle-class Americans — even though, as Romney stated, there is no chance he would try to implement such a plan as president.
So then he's lying to the American people about his plan, Glenn. Just what the hell is wrong with you?
Apparently the corporate media villagers are not much bothered by the fact that Willard "Mittens" Romney is a shameless liar. As Steve Benen points out in Will Mitt's Mendacity undermine his big win?:
In late August, Mitt Romney's chief pollster, asked about the campaign's welfare lie, said, "[W]e're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers." After watching last night, I guess he wasn't kidding.
What will be interesting to watch at this point is whether a meme starts to develop. Phase One of the post-debate analysis saw a consensus quickly coalesce: Romney won with relative ease. Perhaps Phase Two will consider how the Republican managed to do so well?
This is admittedly only a sampling, but this piece from New York's Jon Chait caught my eye:
Romney won the debate in no small part because he adopted a policy of simply lying about his policies. Probably the best way to understand Obama's listless performance is that he was prepared to debate the claims Romney has been making for the entire campaign, and Romney switched up and started making different and utterly bogus ones.
As did this one from Rolling Stone's Tim Dickinson:
Mitt Romney turned in a polished performance in last night's presidential debate – and revealed himself to be an accomplished and unapologetic liar. In an evening where he sought to slice and dice the president with statistics, Romney baldly misrepresented his own policy prescriptions, made up numbers to fit his attacks and buried clear contrasts with the president.
CNN's David Gergen, hardly a liberal, was thinking along the same lines as Chait, saying last night he thinks Obama was surprised that Romney was "flat out lying" during the debate. Plenty of others were thinking along the same lines.
We have met the enemy, and it is the corporate media villagers who cover for the mendacity of Mittens Romney. Hopefully others in the media, as noted above, will hold him to account.
UPDATE: Jonathan Bernstein provides a cornucopia of links to fact checking articles in his Happy Hour Roundup:
1. Ed Kilgore on the audacity of mendacity.
2. While Steve Benen tracks possible signs of a conventional wisdom shift to talking about Romney and the truth.
3. Great takedown by Dylan Matthews of Romney’s phony numbers on small business taxes and jobs.
4. Romney’s green jobs numbers? Hooey, too. As Kevin Drum documents, “about half” works out to 9 percent.
5. The $5 trillion whopper on taxes, from Brian Beutler.
6. Yeah, the pre-existing conditions line was nonsense too, as Paul Krugman points out.
7. Working America has a long wrap-up of Mitt’s mendacity.
8. Chris Hayes recognized one of Romney’s lines about taxes and the rich and thought it sounded awfully familiar.
9. The Washington Post’s editorial board gets it: Romney’s tax plan would explode the deficit.
10. And I might as well toss in my own summary of all you need to know about Romney’s tax plan.
11. Oh, another on taxes: Andrew Kaczynski notes that Romney’s position on taxes and the rich last night is exactly the opposite of what he said during the GOP debates.
Not to mention the point long-time Romney watcher David S. Bernstein makes: “Seriously, at this point if you're surprised at Romney dishonesty, that reveals a very serious flaw in your judgment.”