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Editorial: If I say it isn't so, is it?

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Posted on October 8, 2012 |
By Angelo Lynn



You have to hand it to Mitt Romney in that first debate: his logic was impeccable.

It went something like this: “No, Mr. President, you can’t say my tax cut proposals will create a $5 trillion national deficit over 10 years or that I’ll have to increase taxes on the middle class and slash important benefits to them, if I now say that I won’t let that happen.

“And I‘m saying now that I won’t raise taxes on the middle class and I won’t pass tax cuts that will increase the deficit.”

It was a gutsy tactic that caught President Obama off-guard.

“But, aren’t you the Mitt Romney who for the past 18 months has been touting $5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade, which would provide the economic juice to supercharge our economy? Isn’t that the linchpin of how you plan to grow those 12 million jobs over the next decade? And weren’t you the Mitt Romney who has been touting tax cuts to your wealthy donors and more tax cuts for big businesses, all of which you were going to balance by nipping away at a few loopholes that also benefit millions of middleclass Americans — and which, by the way, doesn’t even come close to balancing the cost of your tax cuts?”

“Yes, Mr. President, that’s me. But I never said I was going to increase the deficit or raise taxes on the middle class. You and all those other economists have said that. My plan is to grow the economy and that will pay for everything. I don’t have to provide any details or budget proposals; because it’s what I believe will happen, despite what all the economists say.”

It’s no wonder President Obama was trying to hide a smirk by looking at the floor.

Romney did it again on health care. First, he denied his plan would cut out millions of people with pre-existing conditions. His plan does allow workers who have health insurance to keep their insurance in case they lose their jobs, but only if they can keep up the premium payments — which is the existing law of the land, thanks to Obamacare. But it doesn’t include the millions of Americans without existing health care insurance who might have a pre-existing condition. Nor does it provide for a safety net if the unemployed worker can’t afford to keep up his health insurance payments while he’s looking for new work.

Second, he said his plan wouldn’t reduce Medicare payments, when in fact by repealing Obamacare — which he said he would do on the first day (but with a bi-partisan approach!) — the benefits under that program would be substantially reduced; and it would change to a voucher system for the millions of Americans 55 and younger. And when pressed later in the week about his details to reduce Medicare spending, he refused to go on the record with the Associated Press to explain how his plan would reduce costs.

Third, he flip-flopped on his campaign tactics of the past 18 months by suddenly embracing the Massachusetts health care plan that the heavily Democratic Legislature passed in Massachusetts and he endorsed as governor; a plan very similar to Obamacare. That’s a plan that he has been running away from for the past two years, and — we’re sure some conservatives were shocked to learn — he’s ready to embrace that overall approach again. That is, at least for Wednesday’s debate when it was too embarrassing to defend his more conservative plan that would indeed put more of the burden on the poor and middle-income in years to come.

Finally, Romney claimed that the private health care system we currently have would be far better than any program run under the government. He didn’t provide any evidence of that, but, like his tax plan, he says we’ll just have to trust him.

“Really,” the president might have responded. “You mean like the current system we have? The system that has allowed millions of Americans to live without health insurance? The one whose premiums are bankrupting individuals and putting our nation’s businesses at a competitive disadvantage with the rest of the world? The system that caps claims and denies care to those who can’t afford to pay more? The system that has gotten us into this mess in the first place?”

“Well, that may be so, Mr. President, but let us not let facts get in the way. Let me believe that when I say pre-existing conditions will be covered under my plan and more Americans will benefit, you can’t challenge the math or the likely outcome if I simply say I won’t let those bad things happen.”

Sheesh, groaned Democrats across the nation, how do you effectively counter a candidate who denies what he has been touting for the past year, and simply rejects the validity of math or common sense as a critique of his plans? Obama certainly wasn’t up for that challenge in last week’s debate, and his team knows he needs a better counter-punch in the next one. In the meantime, Romney must consider how seriously to embrace his newly discovered agenda and its make-believe outcomes.

Angelo S. Lynn

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