10 Most Shameless Romney Debate Lies -- Debunked
US President Barack Obama (right) speaks during his debate with Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney (left), in Denver, Colorado, on October 3. Romney will ride a surge of momentum from the first White House debate onto the campaign trail, while
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
The verdict is in: Mitt Romney handily won last night’s debate, and did what he needed to do to have a fighting chance at winning the election. But what he didn’t do, predictably, was tell the truth.
Romney’s debate performance was chock full of lies, recalling his running mate’s address to the GOP convention, which was also chock full of lies. Hopefully, just as Ryan’s address was dissected and debunked by some media outlets, Romney’s claims are as well, so the debate can move to substantive issues instead of stylistic ones.
Here are ten of Romney’s fact-challenged claims from last night:
1. An ‘Unelected Board’ Controlling Your Health Care
Despite President Obama trying to push back on this lie, Romney made this claim a few times last night. Obamacare, according to Romney, “puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.” In reality, as the Associated Press points out, the board that is tasked with bringing down Medicare costs is prohibited from “rationing care, shifting costs to retirees, restricting benefits or raising the Medicare eligibility age. So the board doesn't have the power to dictate to doctors what treatments they can prescribe.” This Romney claim also hearkened back to Sarah Palin’s lie that Obamacare created “death panels,” which was a straight up lie.
2. A Bipartisan Record
Romney referred to his alleged “bipartisan” record in Massachusetts as governor during the debate. But what’s the real story on this? ABC News calls the claim “not quite factual.” Indeed: Romney’s health care plan was enacted with the help of a Democratic legislature. But in general, the body was “frustrated” with Romney “because he wanted to govern like a ‘CEO’ and ‘didn’t pay heed to the legislature and they resented that,’” according to the Massachusetts Taxpayer Foundation’s Michael Widmer.
3. Dodd-Frank Labels Banks as ‘Too Big to Fail’
One contrast between the candidates that emerged during the debate was over Dodd-Frank, the weak Wall Street reforms and regulations passed after the 2008 financial collapse. Romney wants to repeal Dodd-Frank, and part of the reason why is his claim that the bill designates banks as “too big to fail” and therefore gives them “a blank check.” But as ThinkProgress notes,this is far from the truth: “the law merely says that the biggest, systemically risky banks need to abide by more stringent regulations. If those banks fail, they will be unwound by a new process in the Dodd-Frank law that protects taxpayers from having to pony up for a bailout.”
4. Obamacare Leads to Loss of Healthcare
Governor Romney claimed that the passage of the Affordable Care Act will lead to 20 million people losing health insurance. He based this claim on a Congressional Budget Office report. But according to PolitiFact, Romney “cherry picked” the CBO report and mislead viewers on why people would “lose” coverage.
PolitiFact’s final verdict on the claim is: “That number is cherry-picked, and he’s wrong to describe it as only including people who ‘like’ their coverage, since many of those 20 million will be leaving employer coverage voluntarily for better options. Romney also ignores that under the status quo, many more people today ‘lose’ coverage than even the highest, cherry-picked CBO estimate. We rate his statement False.”
5. The Failure of the Obama Economy
Romney hammered Obama on the economy’s performance over the past four years. One claim Romney made was this: “[We have] 23 million people out of work...The proof of that is that 50 percent of college graduates this year can't find work.”
But here’s the AP breakdown of the facts on this claim: “The number of unemployed is 12.5 million, not 23 million. Romney was also counting 8 million people who are working part time but would like a full-time job and 2.6 million who have stopped looking for work, either because they are discouraged or because they are going back to school or for other reasons.”
And on the college graduate claim, Romney was also wrong. Back to the AP: “A Northeastern University analysis for The Associated Press found that a quarter of graduates were probably unemployed and another quarter were underemployed, which means working in jobs that didn't make full use of their skills or experience.”
6. Obamacare Cuts Billions From Medicare
This was one of Romney’s favorite attack lines last night: the notion that the Affordable Care Act is siphoning off funds from Medicare. The specific claim is that $716 billion was cut from Medicare because of the Affordable Care Act. In reality, this claim is highly misleading. What the number refers to is money that is saved “primarily through reducing over-payments to insurance companies under Medicare Advantage, not payments to beneficiaries. Paul Ryan’s budget plan keeps those same cuts, but directs them toward tax cuts for the rich and deficit reduction,” ThinkProgress notes.
7. Gas Prices Increase
Romney said that “gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up.” This is true--but to blame it on the president is highly misleading. Gasoline prices have little to do with individual policies carried out by a president. Instead, as the Associated Press states, “Gasoline prices are set on financial exchanges around the world and are based on a host of factors, most importantly the price of crude oil used to make gasoline, the amount of finished gasoline ready to be shipped and the capacity of refiners to make enough to meet market demand.”
The AP also skewers Romney’s claim on electric rates going up: “Retail electricity prices have risen since Obama took office — barely. They've grown by an average of less than 1 percent per year, less than the rate of inflation and slower than the historical growth in electricity prices. The unexpectedly modest rise in electricity prices is because of the plummeting cost of natural gas, which is used to generate electricity.”
8. Health Care Costs Rising Under Obama
Romney’s made this statement on the campaign trail--and if it was wrong then, it’s wrong now. Last night, Romney claimed that “health care costs have gone up by $2500 a family.”
But FactCheck.org was on this false claim back when Romney used it on the campaign trail in September. Their take: “Romney says health insurance premiums have gone up $2,500 under Obama. The actual increase has been $1,700, most of which was absorbed by employers and only a small part of which is attributable to the health care law.”
9. Oil and Gas Production Increases Only on Private Land
The former Massachusetts governor said last night that “all of the increase in natural gas and oil has happened on private land...Your Administration has cut the numbers of permit and licenses in half.”
But ABC News says Romney is playing loose with the facts. Data from the Bureau of Land Management shows that “the number of drilling permits on federal lands approved during the fiscal years President Obama has been in office has decreased somewhere between 20 and 37 percent compared to the years before he became president - not the 50 percent Romney claimed.”
10. No Tax Cuts for the Rich
To fend off the perception that he’s only concerned about the wealthy, Romney made sure to emphasize that his economic plan would not lower tax rates on rich people.
Think Progress has the details on that claim: “If Romney were to actually implement his plan to reduce tax rates by 20 percent while eliminating tax deductions in order to pay for it, taxpayers with more than $200,000 would certainly see a tax cut. But everyone else — 95 percent of Americans —will see their taxes increase.”