In the election of 1928, the Republican Party of Herbert Hoover promised voters "a chicken in every pot and a car in every backyard." (We all know how that turned out.) Now, Mitt Romney is pledging that "If I'm President" every college graduate will be guaranteed a job, Iran will have no nuclear weapons and the United States will dominate the 21st century. And when Romney isn't making fantastic promises about what he'll do when he gets to the White House, he's slandering the current occupant, Barack Obama.
"I Won't Let Iran Get Nukes"
Governor Romney's guarantees start with Iran and its nuclear program. In a November 10, 2011 op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Romney pledged, "I won't let Iran get nukes." Or as he put it 10 days earlier during a GOP national security debate:
"If we re-elect Barack Obama, Iran will have a nuclear weapon. If you elect me as president, Iran will not have a nuclear weapon."
As to how he'll ensure that outcome, Romney explained that "If you want peace, prepare for war." And despite occasionally acknowledging the complexity of a strike against Iran and even the questionable possibility of success, Romney told the Wall Street Journal this weekend how he would get it done:
So what would he do about it? "I do not have a top secret security clearance at this stage to be able to define precisely what kinds of actions we could take." But he adds that "the range includes something of a blockade nature, to something of a surgical strike nature, to something of a decapitate the regime nature, to eliminate the military threat of Iran altogether."
No U.S. Decline in Romney's "American Century"
Romney's promise to "eliminate the military threat of Iran altogether" is just part of his larger assurance that the 21st century will be another "American Century." Pretending that the rise of India, China and Brazil doesn't inevitably entail the relative loss of U.S. power and influence, Romney announced in his October address at The Citadel:
"This century must be an American Century. In an American Century, America has the strongest economy and the strongest military in the world. In an American Century, America leads the free world and the free world leads the entire world...As President of the United States, I will devote myself to an American Century. And I will never, ever apologize for America."
Not content to rest there, Romney accused President Obama of "waving the white flag of surrender":
"An eloquently justified surrender of world leadership is still surrender.
I will not surrender America's role in the world. This is very simple: If you do not want America to be the strongest nation on Earth, I am not your President.
You have that President today."
Two months later, Mitt Romney repackaged his promise and his slander at the December 15 Republican debate in Sioux City, Iowa:
"Our president thinks America is in decline. It is if he's president. It's not if I'm president. This is going to be an American century."
As for Romney's charge that President Obama "went around the world and apologized for America," the Washington Post Fact Checker deemed it a Four-Pinocchio lie.
A Job for Every College Graduate
At an event in New Hampshire last week, Governor Romney's pandering went from the sublime to the ridiculous. There, Mitt pledged President Romney would deliver full-employment for all American college graduates:
"What I can promise you is this -- when you get out of college, if I'm president you'll have a job. If President Obama is reelected, you will not be able to get a job. That's the reason I will hopefully get young people who are in college is to say, You know what, I understand what it takes to get jobs in America."
As the record shows, not so much. After all, as the Los Angeles Times recently documented, Romney's "Bain Capital often maximized profits in part by firing workers." That's why FactCheck.org, the Washington Post Fact Checker and Fortune all refused to vouch for Romney's claim that "In those hundreds of businesses we invested in, tens of thousands of jobs net-net were created."
Obama "Has Not Created Any New Jobs"
If Mitt Romney can't prove his boasts about his own job creation record, neither can he justify his blatant lie about President Obama's:
"25 million people are out of work because of Barack Obama. And so I'll compare my experience in the private sector where, net-net, we created over 100,000 jobs."
"I'll compare that record with his record, where he has not created any new jobs."
Sadly for Mitt Romney, the Bush recession began in December 2007. As ThinkProgress rightly noted, "The private sector has added 2.3 million new jobs since March 2010, and it took the Obama economy one year to create more jobs than the economy under President Bush did in eight." As The Economist explained earlier, the recession was not at its deepest just as Barack Obama was entering office, but far worse than official statistics revealed at the time. Romney might also want to check with former McCain economic adviser Mark Zandi as well as the non-partisan CBO, who concluded that the Obama stimulus program "added up to 0.9 million jobs in 2009, 3.3 million jobs in 2010 and 2.6 million jobs in 2011."
Obama's Debt Exceeds All Previous Presidents Combined
Mitt Romney didn't just lie about Barack Obama's jobs record. At the Sioux City debate, he got President Obama's contribution to the federal debt all wrong as well:
"We all understand that the spending crisis is extraordinary, with $15 trillion now in debt, with a president that's racked up as much debt as almost all of the other presidents combined."
Of course, we don't all understand that, because it's not true. After Ronald Reagan tripled the gross national debt and George W. Bush doubled it again, Uncle Sam's red ink totaled almost $11 trillion when Barack Obama took the oath of office.
Obama is "Taking over 100 Percent" of Health Care
In his desperate quest to win over conservative Republican primary voters, Mitt Romney has turned his back on his signature achievement which he once boasted was a health care model for the nation. And to do it, Romney has been lying for months by telling voters "Obamacare is about taking over 100 percent of the people's insurance in this country."
In a September 15, 2011 interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, Romney made the same charge:
"The Massachusetts plan was crafted for Massachusetts, for the needs of 8 percent of our population that didn't have insurance, not for the 92 percent that did. Obamacare is a plan that takes over 100 percent of the people in the country and their health care, and that's one of the reasons why people don't want it."
Sadly for Mitt Romney, repetition of a lie doesn't make it any more true.
The Affordable Care Act passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in the spring of 2010 targets the 17 percent of people (over 50 million people) who are uninsured. As Politifact explained in deeming Romney's fraud another "Pants on Fire" lie:
According to the Census Bureau, the percentage of Americans without health insurance nationally was slightly under 17 percent in 2009, the year Obama began pushing for the bill. According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, the number was about the same in 2010, when the measure was signed into law. Other estimates have pegged the national number at about 15 percent.
As Henry Aaron, a senior fellow with the centrist-to-liberal Brookings Institution right noted, comparing 8 percent to 17 percent "would have been apples to apples" when it comes to the impact of the individual mandate at the center of both the Massachusetts and national plans. Sadly, Politifact concluded, Romney was guilty of "a felony case of comparing apples and oranges."
Romney "Will Reverse President Obama's Massive Defense Cuts"
During that same "American Century" speech in October, Governor Romney pledged:
"I will reverse President Obama's massive defense cuts. Time and again, we have seen that attempts to balance the budget by weakening our military only lead to a far higher price, not only in treasure, but in blood."
Of course, Romney's confusion over matters of war and peace are hardly new. In an April op-ed for the Manchester Union Leader, Mitt forgot about the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan as he denounced President Obama for "one of the biggest peacetime spending binges in American history."
Obama's "Equal Outcomes" and "Entitlement Society"
Last week, the Romney campaign rolled out what may well become the meta-theme and meta-lie for the 2012 general election race.
After President Obama declared in his Osawatomie, Kansas address that Republican trickle down economics "never worked," Romney struck back. Just not with the truth:
"Just a couple of weeks ago in Kansas, President Obama lectured us about Teddy Roosevelt's philosophy of government. But he failed to mention the important difference between Teddy Roosevelt and Barack Obama. Roosevelt believed that government should level the playing field to create equal opportunities. President Obama believes that government should create equal outcomes.
"In an entitlement society, everyone receives the same or similar rewards, regardless of education, effort, and willingness to take risk. That which is earned by some is redistributed to the others. And the only people who truly enjoy any real rewards are those who do the redistributing -- the government.
"The truth is that everyone may get the same rewards, but virtually everyone will be worse off."
By raising the mythical red menace of communism and falsely attributing it to Barack Obama, Romney in the words of Paul Krugman had introduced "The Big Lie" into his "Post-Truth Campaign." While Andrew Sullivan announced "Mitt Romney is a big, fat liar," Steve Benen lamented that "Romney, allegedly the responsible one in the Republican field, has been reduced to lying uncontrollably." And while Greg Sargent in the past had expressed amazement at "Mitt Romney's casual, effortless falsehoods," New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait explained that Romney's red scare rose to a whole new level of duplicity:
"This isn't just a casual line. In eight sentences, Romney asserts over and over again that Obama wants to create "equal outcomes" and give everybody the "same rewards." This is nuts, Glenn Beck-level insane. Restoring Clinton-era taxes is not a plan to equalize outcomes, or even close. It's not even a plan to stop rising inequality. Obama's America will continue to be the most unequal society in the advanced world -- only slightly less so. The alternative proposals accelerate inequality even further."
Of course, as the proliferating profiles from the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post and others show, Mitt Romney is no stranger to inequality. Legendarily cheap and analytical, as a Harvard Business School student Romney gave a presentation to his classmates that "proved the value of family time based not on emotion but on yield." Two Romney quotes - "I love business" and "I love data" - seem to sum up the man.
As for loving the truth, that for Mitt Romney is apparently another matter altogether.
(This piece also appears at Perrspectives.)