The corporate media may have declared Mitt Romney the winner of the first 2012 presidential debate, but that is only because Romney has changed his position (or lied) on so many issues, it’s hard to nail him on policy. Or maybe it’s because Romney is good for business. One thing is for certain: Romney is making all of the president’s arguments for him.
Take this video, for example (h/t Daily Kos):
It’s hard to keep track of all the Mitt Romneys out there. In his first debate against incumbent Barack Obama, Debate Romney claimed he never had a plan–nor has he any plan currently–to lower taxes for the 1%. This is a strange statement for someone who has stated repeatedly over the last several months that, as president, he would lower taxes for everyone, including the 1%.
Remember when Candidate Romney made the famous statement, “[Obama] says we need more firemen, more policemen, more teachers. Didn’t he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It’s time for us to cut back on government.” Never mind for now that the people of Wisconsin tried to recall Scott Walker for making those cuts, or that the nation rallied behind them in their efforts, or that Wisconsin Democrats fled the state to put a stop to Walker’s anti-teacher/union agenda. What matters here is that, according to Debate Romney, he wants more and better teachers in our classrooms; despite any prior statements to the contrary.
When the debate shifted to health care, a couple rounds on “Obamacare” was inevitable. As President Obama went on the offense, Debate Romney boldly proclaimed his incredibly vague “plan” for America included health care for people with pre-existing conditions. According to the Mitt Romney who appeared on the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, however, he doesn’t think people with pre-existing conditions should be able to get on a health insurance plan:
“Well, if they’re 45 years old and they show up and say ‘I want insurance cause I’ve got a heart disease’, it’s like ‘Hey guys, we can’t play the game like that. You gotta get insurance when you’re well, so, and then if you get ill you’re gonna be covered.'”
It almost sounds like Tonight Show Romney approves of the health insurance mandate or perhaps even universal single-payer health care, both of which ensure everyone is covered regardless of health status. This is assuming, of course, that the larger the insurance pool, the less likely a few sick people will drain the pool. That is sound logic even when it comes from Romney, so it’s curious why he’d back away from that.
Over the course of several months, Candidate Romney has traversed the nation, telling crowds that President Obama has made the economy worse than it was when he took office. He then told everyone that he didn’t say things were worse. Which is it, Mr. Romney? We know based on factual information and empirical evidence that the economy, while still on the mend, is actually better today than it was 3-4 years ago. Notwithstanding unprecedented Republican obstruction, the deficit has held steady; unemployment is below 8%; jobs are being added monthly; our auto industry is alive and well; and we are making small investments in clean energy, which is an environmental must with climate change.
One of Mitt’s many personalities wants us to believe that “Obamacare” is a government takeover of health care, that there will be a government bureaucracy between each of us and our doctors. This lie was debunked years ago and is still being pushed by anti-reform Republicans. There is simply no evidence to suggest that the government will ration care, decide who gets what care, or decide you’ve had enough health care. On the contrary, the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) actually helps ensure private insurers don’t do any of that, by prohibiting rescission, uncapping lifetime benefit limits, and requiring companies to cover pre-existing conditions.
Speaking of health insurance reform, there is “Romneycare”, which is Massachusetts’ similar health care overhaul that covers 98% of the state’s population. Candidate Romney has both backed away from his involvement in the popular Massachusetts plan and proudly stood by it at other times. Do we know where he stands on it now? Nope.
Candidate Romney claims that Obama removed the work requirement for welfare beneficiaries, the same one Bill Clinton signed into law via the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act in 1996. This statement, one in a long line of arguably racist falsehoods designed to portray Obama as an entitlement president, is provably false.
He has also repeatedly tried to convince audiences that the President has “robbed” Medicare of $716 billion. Soledad O’Brien very effectively put that lie to bed in a recent interview with a belligerent John Sununu. Sununu, it should be said, also made headlines last week by calling the President “lazy”, “detached”, and “incompetent”. Presidential candidate [Romney] is all over the policy map and given the sheer number of lies he has told during his bizarre campaign for president, we may assume his defender, Sununu, was simply projecting.
Mitt Romney refuses to unequivocally claim a stance on many of the most important domestic and foreign policies, which makes the President’s job much easier and may help explain his lackluster performance in the first debate. It could just as well have been a strategy on Obama’s part to encourage a capricious Romney to bluster at full steam. As we can see from the videos mentioned above, Mitt Romney condemns himself in his own words and that is sometimes the only effective condemnation in a political campaign.
If Candidate Romney is serious about becoming president, he’s going to have to bluntly state where he stands on issues like: jobs, the economy, tax cuts/reform, earned benefit programs (e.g. Social Security), health care, women and gay rights, environmental protections and climate change, and unrest in the Middle East.
The clock is ticking. Will the real Mitt Romney please stand up?