Romney’s Three Biggest Lies (of the Week)

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has a problem: he lies. A lot. It can be hard to keep track of all the many lies Romney tells on the stump, but in the last week, he’s told at least two whoppers and one lie by omission. In honor of the London Games, here are Mitt’s top three lies of the last week — starting with the bronze medal winner.

“I Have Paid Taxes. Every Year. A Lot of Taxes.”

Romney has been dogged by questions about his tax returns, exacerbated by his steadfast refusal to release more than one year’s worth of taxes. (He’s promised to release one more year in the fall.) Romney faced added scrutiny over the last week, as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said that a reliable source told him that Romney paid no federal income tax for several years, and that is the reason he won’t release his returns.

Romney and Republicans have demanded that Reid retract the statement, but so far, Romney has been unwilling to release the tax returns that could prove Reid a liar. Instead, Romney chose to go before his supporters and declare that he has too paid taxes — trust him.

“Let me also say categorically: I have paid taxes every year. A lot of taxes. A lot of taxes,” Romney said Friday. That is, of course, almost certainly true. Romney likely paid sales taxes and property taxes and gasoline taxes, just like everyone else. Of course, Romney left a very important word out of his defense: “income.”

Romney was careful not to claim he paid income taxes every year, which are the taxes Reid was talking about. Does that mean Reid is right? Well, without seeing Romney’s tax returns, it’s impossible to say.

One other part of Romney’s statement is a lie: the part where he says he paid “a lot” of taxes. Romney only paid 14 percent of his income in taxes in 2010. That’s because most of his income was investment income, which is taxed at a far lower rate than job income is. Certainly, the dollar amount Romney paid was higher than your average Joe, but the percentage Romney paid is far from burdensome.

Obama is Going to “Gut Welfare Reform”

For those of you who are either too young to remember the late 20th century (or for those of you who’ve chosen to block it out), welfare reform was once a great Republican bugaboo, the “immigrants are stealing your jobs” of the Reagan era. Ronald Reagan himself once decried the “strapping young bucks” who used welfare to buy “t-bone steaks,” and if that sounds incredibly racist, you’re right.

In 1996, President Bill Clinton helped Republicans achieve their goal of slashing — er, reforming — welfare. The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act made it harder to get public assistance, especially for women who were seeking post-secondary degrees. While the act did have the effect of kicking a lot of people off of assistance, the initial reports of its significant benefits in reducing poverty were primarily due to the roaring economy of the tech boom.

Why do I mention this? Because Mitt Romney’s base is made up of people who were well into adulthood when the PRWOA was signed into law, people who remember welfare reform as a salient issue. Romney is attempting to appeal to those voters with his second-biggest lie of the week, the lie that President Obama wants to “gut welfare reform.”

Romney’s lie hinges on waivers that the Obama administration is issuing to states that want flexibility to adjust work requirements in the face of the current recession. As the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein wrote last month, “The actual language is rather strict and rules out a number of potential waiver applications.” Job requirements are not going to be eliminated; rather, states will be able to use increased flexibility to help move recipients toward long-term employment.

Given the Republican love of giving the states more power, this may seem like something they would support the president in doing, or at the very least, have trouble arguing against. Romney makes the argument simpler by lying; in the ad, the campaign says, “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check and welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare.”

Incidentally, if you’re wondering where Barack Obama could have gotten the idea of giving states more flexibility on welfare requirements, it may have come from this 2005 letter from the Republican Governor’s Association requesting exactly that from then-Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist. The second signature on the request was then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, who was for Obama’s welfare rule changes before he was against them.

“I’ll work to protect the voting rights of our military, not undermine them.”

Mitt’s biggest lie of the past week is a doozy. Romney claimed that Barack Obama was trying to limit the voting rights of members of the military in Ohio, because of a lawsuit filed in the state over Ohio’s decision to eliminate early voting except for members of the military. Was Obama trying to “undermine” the rights of soldiers? In a word, no. Instead, Obama and the Democratic Party sought to give everyone in Ohio the same rights as Ohio wanted to give soldiers — in other words, to give everyone the opportunity to vote early.

Nevertheless, Romney took to Facebook to play more-patriotic-than-thou, lambasting Obama for “claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state’s early voting period,” something Romney said was an “outrage.” Of course, Obama wants to keep those early voting privileges in place for the military, and extend it for everyone — including veterans. Romney would refuse to give veterans early voting privileges. Who’s undermining voting rights now?

Indeed, Romney’s bald-face lie drew a rejoinder from John Soltz of, who said, “Obviously with the narrative the Romney campaign is pushing, they probably don’t have a lot of people around them who have actually served. We also agree, like the president does, that someone who served in World World II in the Battle of the Bulge or someone who lost their legs in Vietnam has just as much of a right to vote as today’s veteran.”

With three whoppers in the last week, it’s tempting to ask why Romney thinks he can lie with impunity, but of course, the answer is simple: the media won’t call him on it. Given over to fake even-handedness, the media is stuck saying things like this:

Republicans say a lawsuit brought by Obama for America in July seeks to eliminate additional time for in-person early voting allotted to service members in the battleground state. Democrats, on the other hand, contend the presumptive GOP nominee is deliberately trying to distort the facts.

Yes, some say the sun is hot, others say it is cold; who can say who’s telling the truth? Well, the media could, but that would require them to care more about the truth than balance. As long as the media keeps playing at “balance,” Romney will keep spitting out a few notable lies every week.

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Image Credit: Donkey Hotey

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Valerie A.
Valerie A.3 years ago


Alison A.
Alison A.3 years ago


Margaret F.
Margaret M. F.3 years ago

Thank-you for posting this article.

David N.
David N.3 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Cutting spending in the midst of a fiancial crisis such as President Obama inherited would have been disasterous and resulted in a full blown depression.

Also Social Security does not "add to the budget deficit," quite the contrary. It pays for itself, has enough money now to pay full benefits for the next 21 years, and is not even part of the deficit equation.

Paula M.
Paula M.3 years ago

Ivy T., thank you for the civility of your response. I cannot speak to your full analysis but note that the figures you provide for the Obama administration’s contribution to existing debt differ from those of

Part of the difference is no doubt that your analysis seems to separate interest costs from spending. But why should it? A responsible President must consider the existing financial situation when creating a budget. President Obama’s profligate spending would be acceptable (though unwise) were our country on sound financial footing, but in the context of a significant existing debt and increasing liabilities it can only be seen as irresponsible.

You blame the bulk of the debt on Republican Presidents and say that it is no good to implicate the Democrats in Congress who voted for more spending. I will agree that Republicans, both in the White House and in Congress, bear some responsibility for the spending that has gotten us where we are. But in almost every case these spending hikes were passed with more Democrat than Republican votes. And our problems with Social Security and Medicare, which now comprise about 41% of federal spending, were created by Democrat majorities more than 20 years ago.

As to President Obama’s relative responsibility for costs in 2009 I would also note the following link:

Kevin Brown
Kevin Brown3 years ago

Ivy T. and Don H.-Please take a handful of green stars out of petty cash, my treat!

Ivy Taylor
Yvonne Taylor3 years ago

David F, Just perhaps..., if the House and Congress actually didn't do the no no's on anything and everything Obama proposed, for their political gain, we might be even better off, ya think?? Did anyone notice that jobs ARE being created despite the Republicans efforts to that anything that might help? We are not losing jobs like with the Bush admin. yet the right wing news subtly titles their headlines when reporting jobs gained with "only" and tries to dismiss this fact.

Frances C.
Frances C.3 years ago

Ivy T. Thank you for taking the time and effort to lay out these facts. Well done!

Ivy Taylor
Yvonne Taylor3 years ago

Ack, needed more room, this is 3rd part of my post continued-
Interest on $11.7 trillion after G. W. Bush: $0.3 trillion
(detailed calculation)
Grand Total Reagan-Bushes Debt: $12 trillion (as of Sept. 30, 2010).

If the Republicans had not run up this $12 Trillion debt, we could easily have pulled out of the Great Recession. Economist Mike Kimel notes that the five former Democratic Presidents (Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy, and Harry S. Truman) all reduced public debt as a share of GDP, while the last four Republican Presidents (George W. Bush, George H. W. Bush, Ronald Reagan, and Gerald Ford) all oversaw an increase in the country's indebtedness.Economic historian J. Bradford DeLong, former Clinton Treasury Department official, observes a contrast not so much between Republicans and Democrats, but between Democrats and "old-style Republicans (Eisenhower and Nixon)" on one hand (decreasing debt), and "new-style Republicans" on the other (increasing debt). David Stockman, director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Ronald Reagan, as op-ed contributor to the New York Times, blamed the "ideological tax-cutters" of the Reagan administration for the increase of national debt during the 1980s. US had been downgraded since it was originally given a AAA rating on its debt by Moody's in 1917. According to the BBC, Standard & Poor's had "lost confidence" in the ability of the United States government to make de