Romney’s Four Most Misleading Moments
1. Taxes. President Obama repeatedly described Romney’s tax plan as a $5 trillion tax plan. Romney repeatedly took exception. The figure is correct. Romney has not given many details about his tax plan, but it’s possible to extrapolate from his promises and the Tax Policy Center, a project of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute, did just that. Crunching the numbers, they determined that his proposed rate cut would cost… $5 trillion.
2. The deficit and spending cuts. Asked by moderator Jim Lehrer how he’d cut the deficit, Romney outlined his plan for cutting spending. It included three main provisions.
First, Romney said, he’d repeal the Affordable Care Act. He’s serious about that, I presume. The problem is that, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care law reduces the deficit…Then Romney said he’d review programs and cut all that are non-essential, singling out PBS. Well, fine. That’s pennies on the budget. It wouldn’t be nearly enough to make a meaningful dent in the deficit…After that, Romney mentioned “turning programs over to the states.” Here there is real money, particularly if Romney includes Medicaid, which will soon eclipse Medicare as the government’s most expensive health insurance program. But Romney suggested this would work because the states are more efficient. This is what he usually says. The implication is that the states can spend a lot less on the programs without dramatically reducing services.
That’s nonsense. Medicaid already pays less than every other insurance program, private and public.
3. Medicare: Over and over again, Romney attacked Obama because the Affordable Care Act reduces Medicare spending by $716 billion. As you probably know by now, Paul Ryan’s budget made the exact same cut. And less than a year ago, Romney was praising this budget to the hilt.
But there’s another problem here: Romney’s own budget numbers don’t add up. Remember, he’s promised to cap non-defense spending at 16 percent of GDP. And he’s said he won’t touch Social Security. If he walls off Medicare, too, that would mean even sharper cuts across the board. How sharp? The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities ran the numbers. If Medicare is getting that $716 billion back, he’d have to cut other programs by an average of a third by 2016 and in half by 2022.
4. Health care and pre-existing conditions. Yeah, this was the part when I jumped out of my chair. Obama said that Romney’s alternative to Obamacare wouldn’t protect people with pre-existing conditions. Romney said it would. Sorry, but Romney is just plain wrong here.