America on the Cusp
In St. Louis, MO, on June 7, 2012, Mitt Romney declared:
“America is on the cusp of having a government-run economy. That’s where he’s taking us. President Obama is transforming America into something very different than the land of the free and the land of opportunity and we know where that transformation leads,” http://www.latimes.com/news/politics
This is an almost verbatim reprise of his assertion during a Republican debate in March. It was not true the first time and it is not true now. One indicator is the historically high level of corporate after-tax profits. The only dip is a reflection of the economic collapse of 2008. As the chart below plainly shows, however, corporate profits have strongly rebounded during the Obama presidency.
If Mitt is telling the truth about being on the cusp of a government run economy, why are corporate profits at historic highs? What kind of socialism is this?
Willard regularly tries to tie this absurd claim about a government run economy to the paranoia over the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called – Obamacare. In March, April, and May of 2012, Romney asserted that if the healthcare law becomes fully operative, government will control half the economy. For example, in May he stated: “Government at all levels now constitutes 38 percent of the economy, and if Obamacare is installed, it will reach almost 50 percent.” [Factcheck.org] This statement is blatantly untrue! Government spending at all levels directly accounts for 20.1% of the economy
The only measure that even approximates Romney’s initial assertion if one which includes social security benefits and interest payments. These disbursements are not counted as part of the GDP until the recipients spend them. Therefore, in order to begin his charge, Romney overstates and misuses a statistic that does not mean what he implies it means. Willard may be trying to insinuate that government spending will rise from his false floor of 38% to 50% when the healthcare law is fully implemented. But as factcheck.org says, “that’s not possible. The law will constitute a fraction of GDP, even when fully implemented in 2015. Currently, 12 percent of GDP is equal to $1.9 trillion. But the total cost of the health care law to state and federal governments is estimated at $1.8 trillion over 11 years, from 2012 to 2022. During that time, costs would average $167 billion a year — a fraction of the current $15.5 trillion annual GDP.”
Therefore, Romney tries to show that America is on the cusp of a government run economy by grossly overstating the proportion of government spending to the total GDP and then, he makes a preposterous claim about the impact of Obamacare. His banner assertion about being on the cusp is simply wild electioneering and the data that seemingly underlie this fabrication are flagrantly distorted and callously misapplied. This deceptive practice was emphasized by the Romney campaign’s explanation of his dubious claim. According to Eric Fehrnstrom a Romney spokesman “The 50% includes total health care expenditures, which will be effectively under government control once Obamacare is fully implemented.”
This explanation is patently false and grievously misleading. Total health care spending includes public and private expenditures — Medicare and Medicaid, private insurance payments and out-of-pocket spending for co-payments and deductibles. All these expenditures cannot honestly be counted as government expenditures. Therefore, the explanation of the false claim includes a falsehood at its core.
At any rate, argument over healthcare spending is beside the point. Obamacare is not “government-run health care” and it does not change things so “the government takes over your health care.” Obamacare builds on the current system of private insurance. Most people would continue to get insurance through their employers, as they do now, and others who buy individual private coverage will do so through a new system that is likely to offer them more choices than they currently exist. A pure government-run system was never among the leading Democratic proposals, much less enacted as the Affordable Care Act. To reiterate, the law builds on the current system of private insurance. In fact, it drums up more business for private companies by mandating that individuals buy coverage and giving many subsidies to do so. There is increased government regulation of the insurance industry, for example, it requires companies to cover preexisting conditions. So there has been some regulatory change regarding healthcare, but this act is far more a makeover than a takeover.
The government run economy canard was not enough for Willard, however, he had more to offer. Besides the falsehood of government control, Romney falsely asserted that President Obama neglected the economic recovery in order to concentrate on healthcare reform. In fact he went even farther in to the fields of fabrication. “On Wednesday Romney said President Obama and his aides believed the health care reform law would harm the recovery but pushed for it anyway, and sourced the argument to Scheiber’s book. But the claim is not true.”
In a phone interview with TPM, Noam Scheiber, author of The Escape Artists, said: “That is false, in a variety of ways. I don’t believe that it’s substantively true.” Scheiber goes on to say, Romney imputes one big claim that I do not make in the book and I do not believe: “Which is that there’s something substantively, sort of intrinsically about the Affordable Care Act that would derail the recovery.” He said, he does not personally believe that and he does not believe anyone in the Obama administration believed it. In fact, on a televised discussion with Martin Bashir, Scheiber declared, “I found no evidence of that or that anyone in the administration felt that way.”
Willard is so enamored of this misrepresentation that he had made it in May, and Scheiber had corrected this fabrication at that time. Romney seemed to have been fixating on a quote from Larry Summers in The Escape Artists: “I always admired the president’s courage for recognizing that 50 years from now, people would remember that all Americans had health care,” Larry Summers later said in an interview. “And even if pursuing health care affected the pace of the recovery, which was unlikely in my view, people wouldn’t remember how fast the recovery from this recession was.” Romney took this quote along with its disavowal of adverse impact on the recovery to mean: “So that means they went into this knowing that when they passed Obamacare, it was going to make life harder for the American people.” This is simply absurd. What Romney asserts has no connection with what Mr. Summers said and it surely falsifies both the argument in The Escape Artists and the feeling in the Obama Administration. Of course, Mitt is counting on the people he is speaking to and those who read of his remarks not knowing the truth of the book or the statements about highly placed officials in the Obama administration. On this basis, Mitt feels free to lie again and again on a wide variety of topics. http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/06/noam-scheiber-mitt-romney-escape-artists-health-care-economy.php
Even with this the Romney campaign is not through with its trifecta of distortion. Neither the campaign nor Willard could resist the temptation of erroneously spinning a comment by President Obama on Friday, June 8, 2012:
“The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we’ve created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone. The private sector is doing fine. Where we’re seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government.”
As this chart shows, President Obama’s remark is precisely accurate. Private sector employment is and has been recovering. Public sector is and has been declining. If these public sector jobs had not been lost, the unemployment rate would be as much as a full percentage point lower.
So Romney is flying in the face of the facts when he challenges the president on this. Furthermore, Romney reveals his callousness and indifference when he says of the president’s call for more teachers, firefighters, and police officers: “He wants another stimulus, he wants to hire more government workers,” Romney said in Iowa. “He says we need more firemen, more policemen, and more teachers. Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government and help the American people.”
One must ask Romney and all prominent Republicans: When did “firemen, policemen, and teachers” become personae non gratae? These jobs are real jobs! If anyone doubts the veracity of this statement, simply ask somebody who does them. During the Bush years and in the 2007-2008 campaign season, Republicans bathed themselves in the reflected glory of first responders from 9-11. How quickly they have forgotten. According to Romney, “It’s time for us to cut back….”
What Willard says is no indication of either his true beliefs or of the truth. He has a shocking disregard for accuracy, evidence, logic and truth. Based on his pronouncements and posturing, it seems he might truly agree with Herbert Hoover who declared:
“Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves.”
This was wrongheaded thinking in the 1920’s and it is foolishness today. Hoover thought he could dupe the people into consenting to this nonsense and Romney apparently hopes to do so in 2012. Romney is the most practiced liar ever to run for the Presidency. He gained this expertise through his years of vulture capitalism where as CEO his word was law. It seems he concurs with Ed Rollins in this regard: “You can fool all the people all the time if the advertising budget is big enough.” For all our sakes and the sake of our children and our country, let us resolve that Willard will be no more successful than Herbert in fooling all the people this time regardless of his enormous advertising budget and those of supportive Super Pacs.
Tags: deception, Election Campaign, information, jobs, lies, romney, Truth