Romney’s Seven Biggest Debate Lies

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The Nation

Romney’s Seven Biggest Debate Lies

Perhaps the most famous moment to come out of Tuesday night’s presidential town-hall style debate in Hempstead, New York, was when moderator Candy Crowley fact-checked Mitt Romney on the spot on Libya. (Video here). 

But that isn’t the only time the Republican candidate said something completely false—it was perhaps just the most obvious. Here are the seven biggest lies Romney told:

ROMNEY: “We have fewer people working today than we had when the president took office.”

This is flatly false. The Bureau of Labor statistics just revised estimates from March 2011 to March 2012 upwards by 386,000 jobs—meaning that Obama crossed the magic imaginary barrier of net job creation for his term, and has actually created a net positive 125,000 jobs. This is a simple fact. And there have been 868,000 jobs created in the private sector during this time, which have been offset by public sector job losses—something Mitt Romney would like to see continue.

Moreover, this is an awful tough metric to judge Obama on in the first place. As he’s fond of mentioning, the economy was hemorrhaging 800,000 jobs a month when he took office—so holding him to a net job creation standard means he has to make up for those massive losses that were out of his control entirely. But he’s still done it.

ROMNEY: “I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care or not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives.”

Recall back in March, when Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri introduced a bill that would allow employers to deny contraceptive coverage to employees.

Mitt Romney said: “Of course I support the Blunt amendment…. Of course Roy Blunt, who is my liaison to the Senate, is someone I support and of course I support that amendment. I clearly want to have religious exemption from Obamacare…. I really think all Americans should be allowed to get around this religious exemption.”

This one is pretty simple.

ROMNEY: “I am not going to have people at the high end pay less than they’re paying now. The top 5 percent of taxpayers will continue to pay 60 percent of the income tax the nation collects. So that’ll stay the same. Middle-income people are going to get a tax break.”

A Center for American Progress examination of Romney’s tax plan concluded that the top 10 percent of income earners would reap half of the plan’s benefits, and the top 1 percent would reap one-third of the benefits.

Romney tries to dodge this unassailable fact by saying he’ll cut deductions for the wealthy—but he refuses to say which ones. He’s also ruled out raising the tax breaks the wealthy get on capital gains and dividends. This lead the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center to conclude that Romney would have to end up cutting deductions used by the middle class to make his math work—thus raising their taxes.

ROMNEY: “As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land.”

Obama immediately challenged this point, leading to the first of many back-and-forths between the president and Romney. But Obama was right. It’s true that drilling on public lands dropped 14 percent in 2011, but it went up 15 percent the year before. Overall oil production on federal lands is up under Obama—and Romney is being extremely dishonest in singling out the one year that it dropped.

We must pause here to note that—since the oil drilled on federal land in the United States has zero impact on global gas prices, since it’s such a trivial amount—it’s not such a hot idea, and not one Obama should be particularly proud of increasing. But he did increase it.

Also, it should be noted that Romney plainly said later in the debate that “coal jobs are not up.” In fact, 1,500 jobs in the coal industry have been created since Obama took office.

ROMNEY: “And — and so we — we took a concerted effort to go out and find women who had backgrounds that could be qualified to become members of our cabinet. 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…[Massachusetts] had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.

First of all, that effort was spearheaded by a nonpartisan coalition of women’s groups, not Romney. Second, the number of women in high-level appointed positions declined 27.6 during his tenure as governor.

More importantly, as my colleague Ben Adler notes, Romney has opposed pay equity for women in much more substantive policy ways beyond these anecdotes—opposing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act.

Also, there were no binders full of women at Bain Capital—there were no female partners at that firm during the 1980s and 1990s, according to The Boston Globe. Today, only four of forty-nine of the firm’s managing directors are women.

More importantly, as my colleague Ben Adler notes, Romney has opposed pay equity for women in much more substantive policy ways beyond these anecdotes—opposing the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and the Paycheck Fairness Act. 

ROMNEY: “I want to make sure we keep our Pell Grant program growing.”

This is simply not true. Romney and his running mate would cut Pell Grants—Romney has been vague on the issue, using ominous budgetspeak that he wants to “refocus” Pell Grant dollars to “place the program on a responsible long-term path,” but Paul Ryan has been far more specific—his budget would cut Pell Grants for up to 1 million students.

ROMNEY: “We’re going to bring that pipeline in from Canada. How in the world the president said no to that pipeline? I will never know. This is about bringing good jobs back for the middle class of America, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Romney is joining many other members of the Republican party in saying the Keystone Pipeline is a job-creation engine. It’s not. The Cornell Global Labor Institute says it would create only 2,500 to 4,650 short-term construction jobs while it was being built—and the State Department found similar numbers  in its environmental review of the project. That’s not enough to impact the unemployment rate, and is notably far, far less than the millions of jobs independent analysts say would be created by Obama’s American Jobs Act, which focuses on many infrastructure projects and increased hiring of teachers and public safety workers.

George Zornick

George grew up in Buffalo, NY and holds a B.A. in English from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Prior to joining The Nation, George was Senior Reporter/Blogger for ThinkProgress.org. He worked as a researcher for Michael Moore's SiCKO and as an Associate Producer on "The Media Project" on the Independent Film Channel.

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