Veracity Check: Cleaning up after Mitt and the First Presidential Debate of 2012

Obama Romney 2012 Election slider Veracity Check: Cleaning up after Mitt and the First Presidential Debate of 2012

Consensus is that Mitt Romney won the first debate. That may well be true, if viewers are easily swayed by posturing and aggression. If, however, you were looking for fact and substance, then you might be tempted to give the debate to Obama. Romney seem to triumph simply by being the challenger and standing on the same stage with the incumbent president. Win or lose, however, Mitt does not get a second chance to come into these presidential debates as an underdog; neither does he get a second chance to be an untried opponent. You must admit, though; it takes a certain amount of fortitude to stand and deliver amidst the shitstorm of lies and distortions that spewed forth from the mouth of Willard Mitt Romney. The Stew has unraveled some of them, so here goes . . . .

Corporate Tax Break for Shipping Jobs Overseas Claim: President Obama said “Companies get a tax deduction for moving jobs overseas.” To this Romney replied most condescendingly “Look, I’ve been in business for 25 years. I have no idea what you are talking about. I maybe need to get a new accountant. The idea that you get a break for shipping jobs overseas is simply not the case.”

Veracity Check: President Obama was actually describing a tax break for ordinary business expense, including deductions allowed for a company if it closes its plant in the United States and moves it to another country. Lehrer moved on without giving President Obama time to rebut. But essentially, Mitt got away with claiming to be an “authority” on business practices, and was clearly given the benefit of the doubt when he was so horribly wrong.

Romney’s Tax Deduction Cap Increased Overnight “As an option you could say everybody’s going to get up to a $ 17,000 deduction; and you could use your charitable deduction, your home mortgage deduction, or others – your healthcare deduction. And you can fill that bucket, if you will, that $ 17,000 bucket that way,”

During the Wednesday, October 3 presidential debate, Romney suggested capping the amount of tax deductions that an individual can use at $ 25,000 or $ 50,000. Which one of the three is it?

Veracity check: we’re stumped.

Fact: pick a number; any number. You’ll probably come up with Mitt’s plan before he does.

Romney claims Five Studies back up his Tax Plan Claim: During the debate, Romney claimed that “five studies show that if we bring down our top rates and actually go across the board — bring down rates for everyone in America — but also limit deductions and exemptions for people at the high end, and you create an enormous incentive for growth in the economy.”

Veracity check: Sources reviewed Romney’s evidence supplied by the Romney campaign and concluded the “five studies” included Romney campaign advisers and several newspaper editorials. None of the five were independent studies. In fact they concluded that Romney uses the word “studies” generously, for they were not really studies at all.

Tax Hikes Impact small businesses Taxed at Individual Rate Claim: Romney said raising the personal tax rates for the wealthy would kill jobs because many small businesses pay taxes as individuals.

Veracity check: Reports show that only about 3% of small businesses earn sufficient income to be impacted by higher individual taxes, though many of those are among the most successful who do a lot of hiring and investing. Is your head spinning yet?

Romney’s Tax Plan & your Tax Deductions During the debate, Romney admonished President Obama for not adopting Simpson-Bowles. To which President Obama replied that the White House is reviewing and revising Simpson-Bowles with the intent of bringing it back before Congress for a vote. When Lehrer asked if that meant Romney was in favor of Simpson-Bowles, the candidate adamantly replied “No, I have my own plan.”

Veracity check: What will the Romney alternative to Simpson-Bowles do? Mitt plans to raise revenue for his proposed hike in military spending and tax cuts for the wealthy by eliminating or cutting tax deductions. This tactic is referred to in confound-the-masses jargon as “broadening the tax base” because it broadens your tax rate by cutting your tax refund. The non-partisan Tax Policy Center has contended that middle-class families would see their taxes go up by roughly $ 2,000 a year under Romney’s plan if he keeps his promise to make the tax reform revenue-neutral. They argue that it can’t be done without ending popular middle-class deductions on mortgage interest, earned income credit, and charitable contributions.

Medicare Cuts Claim: Romney says Obama’s health care law cuts $ 716 billion from Medicare which will hurt current beneficiaries.

Veracity check: Nice try, Mitt, but we’ve addressed this before. Obama care cuts $ 716 billion from Medicare payments to healthcare providers and insurers — not senior citizens’ benefits — as part of an effort to rein in costs over the course of the next decade. The $ 716 billion is currently being applied to shrink the Medicare donut hole, thereby reducing prescription drug costs to seniors. In this debate Romney contends that the payment cuts would affect provider care because doctors will stop accepting Medicare patients and it could force some health care facilities to close. How is he able to surmise this, when the law has not yet been fully implemented? On what does he base his ‘facts’?

Romney also claimed that he would return the $ 716 billion to Medicare, specifically to the insurance companies and give seniors the choice of purchasing health insurance on the free market. To this President Obama replied that insurance companies would admit the healthiest patients, leaving only the very sick to depend on government-sponsored Medicare. Such an act, the president said, would cause a collapse of government-sponsored Medicare and put our elderly at the mercy of the insurance companies.

Rising Health Care Costs Claim: Health care costs rose at a rate of $ 2,500 per family per year under Obama.

Veracity check: Health care inflation has slowed notably under Obama. Health insurance costs rose 4% last year, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That rate is far below the 10% to 13% seen in 2003 and 2004. According to Kaiser CEO, Drew Altman, these are “strikingly low numbers to those of us who have been studying health costs for a long time. A 4% increase in health premiums is good news.”

Obamacare Board tells people what treatments they can receive Claim: According to Romney, ”IPAB board can tell people ultimately what treatments they’re going to receive.”

Veracity Check: According to the non-partisan, non-profit Kaiser Family Foundation: The health care law directs a new national board — with 15 members who are political appointees — to identify Medicare savings. It’s forbidden from submitting “any recommendation to ration health care,” as Section 3403 of the health care law states. It may not raise premiums for Medicare beneficiaries or increase deductibles, coinsurance or co-payments. The IPAB also cannot change who is eligible for Medicare, restrict benefits or make recommendations that would raise revenue.

What it can do is reduce how much the government pays health care providers for services, reduce payments to hospitals with very high rates of re-admissions or recommend innovations that cut wasteful spending. Some argue that because the IPAB can reduce the money a doctor receives, this could lead to an indirect form of rationing.

So the Stew has cleaned up after Mitt – somewhat – and we’re exhausted. The debate is riddled with jaw-dropping “holy shit” moments for those of us who have consistently been reporting on the facts. If you’re wondering why President Obama looked a bit distracted – trust me – we too felt dazed by Mitt’s mendacity. President Obama has our deepest empathy. We have not covered all Mitt’s discrepancies, so feel free to mention any important factoids that we have left out.

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