Saturday, October 6, 2012
More Romney Debate Lies
ROMNEY: Obama’s health care plan “puts in place an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have. I don’t like that idea.”
THE FACTS: Romney is referring to the Independent Payment Advisory Board, a panel of experts that would have the power to force Medicare cuts if costs rise beyond certain levels and Congress fails to act. But Obama’s health care law explicitly prohibits the board from rationing care, shifting costs to retirees, restricting benefits or raising the Medicare eligibility age. So the board doesn’t have the power to dictate to doctors what treatments they can prescribe.
Romney seems to be resurrecting the assertion that Obama’s law would lead to rationing, made famous by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s widely debunked allegation that it would create “death panels.”
The board has yet to be named, and its members would ultimately have to be confirmed by the Senate. Health care inflation has been modest in the last few years, so cuts would be unlikely for most of the rest of this decade.
ROMNEY on the failure of Obama’s economic policy: “And the proof of that is 23 million people out of work. The proof of that is 1 out of 6 people in poverty. The proof of that is we’ve gone from 32 million on food stamps to 47 million on food stamps. The proof of that is that 50 percent of college graduates this year can’t find work.”
THE FACTS: The number of unemployed is 12.5 million, not 23 million. Romney was also counting 8 million people who are working part time but would like a full-time job and 2.6 million who have stopped looking for work, either because they are discouraged or because they are going back to school or for other reasons.
He got the figure closer to right earlier in the debate, leaving out only the part-timers when he said the U.S. has “23 million people out of work or stopped looking for work.” But he got the facts wrong in asserting that Obama came into office “facing 23 million people out of work.” At the start of Obama’s presidency, 12 million were out of work.
His claim that half of college graduates can’t find work now also was dishonest. A Northeastern University analysis for The Associated Press found that a one-fourth of recent graduates were probably unemployed and another quarter were underemployed, which means working in jobs that didn’t make full use of their skills or experience.
ROMNEY: “Right now, the CBO says up to 20 million people will lose their insurance as Obamacare goes into effect next year.”
THE FACTS: Romney is dishonestly making selective use of the Congressional Budget Office’s March findings on how employers might adjust to the new health law. The neutral Washington scorekeeper actually gave Congress four scenarios — ranging from a net increase in employer-provided coverage for 3 million people to the decrease of 20 million that Romney cited.
Here’s why: The law offers tax incentives for companies with more than 50 workers that provide coverage and penalties for those that don’t. The analysis says it’s difficult to say how companies will behave, with some making a purely economic calculation and others concluding that continuing coverage may be essential to pleasing workers in a competitive environment. “As a result, any projections of those effects are clearly quite uncertain,” the study’s authors concluded.
ROMNEY on cutting the deficit: “Obamacare’s on my list. … I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS. … I’ll make government more efficient.”
THE FACTS: Romney has promised to balance the budget in eight years to 10 years, but he hasn’t offered a complete plan. Instead, he’s promised a set of principles, some of which — like increasing Pentagon spending and restoring more than $700 billion in cuts that Democrats made in Medicare over the coming decade — work against his goal. He also has said he will not consider tax increases.
He pledges to shrink the government to 20 percent of the size of the economy, as opposed to more than 23 percent of gross domestic product now, by the end of his first term. The Romney campaign estimates that would require cuts of $500 billion from the 2016 budget alone. He also has pledged to cut tax rates by 20 percent, paying for them by eliminating tax breaks for the wealthiest and through economic growth.
To fulfill his promise, then, Romney would require cuts to other programs so deep — under one calculation requiring cutting many areas of the domestic budget by one-third within four years — that they could never get through Congress. Cuts to domestic agencies would have to be particularly deep.
But he’s offered only a few modest examples of government programs he’d be willing to squeeze, like subsidies to PBS and Amtrak. He does want to repeal Obama’s big health care law, but that law is actually forecast to reduce the deficit.