A Comprehensive Guide to Romnesia from the Second Presidential Debate
In the second debate, Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney made many misleading statements as he did in the first debate. President Obama believes he knows why Romney is doing this. He’s labelled the condition Romnesia (see above video) which has become a social media hit. He also argues there is a cure – Obamacare covers pre-existing conditions. However, the actual cure may be in tagging Mr. Romney to his actual positions instead of the numerous positions he claims to have.
Republicans have argued that Romnesia, like Big Bird and Binders Full of Women are clever but essentially meaningless campaign slogans. In the case of Romnesia, that’s not the case because it argues that Mr. Romney is misleading voters.
The Impartial Review News definition of Romnesia is when he mis-states his own plans. As The Impartial Review News has discussed before, Mr. Romney doesn’t like to give specifics on most of his plans. President Obama refers to this problem as Mr. Romney’s “sketchy deals.” This gives Mr. Romney several advantages when people criticize his plans. For example, he can change the plan and accuse critics of not understanding his plan which is true because he hasn’t given them a complete plan (Sketchy Deal or a pig in the poke). He also can adjust the plan for different audiences to make it sound more appealing and he can exaggerate the benefits of his plan (etch-a-sketch). However, these are unethical strategies because he never informs the public about his true intentions.
In addition to Romnesia, there is also Anterograde Romnesia where Mr. Romney appears to have false memories about his political opponents. It’s similar to a false personal attack. Also, there is Conesia which involves making highly deceptive comments about his own plans.
We’ll analyze Mr. Romney’s statements on the major issues and label each misleading comment accordingly: Sketchy Deal, Etch-A-Sketch, Romnesia, Anterograde Romnesia and Conesia. In this way, you can spot similar occurrences in the future and we’ll see which strategies Mr. Romney prefers.
As in our prior fact-checking efforts, The Impartial Review News finds more than others because we know what we’re looking for.
“I put out a five-point plan that gets America 12 million new jobs in four years and rising take-home pay.” Sketchy Deal & Conesia
According to Romney’s campaign, five conservative studies support his plan. However, that’s not the case.
“What I will do as president is make sure it’s more attractive to come to America again.” Conesia
Incredibly, he’s proposed a territorial tax system where the tax rate is 0% for American companies foreign offices. This would give American businesses less of an incentive to do business in the U.S. as it lowers their overseas taxes. They would only have to pay foreign taxes.
“So when you say that I wanted to take the auto industry bankrupt, you actually did. And — and I think it’s important to know that that was a process that was necessary to get those companies back on their feet, so they could start hiring more people. That was precisely what I recommend and ultimately what happened.” Romnesia
What Mr. Romney is not saying is that he made a 3,000 percent profit on the bailout for a total of $11 million dollars.
As the President pointed out, Mr. Romney didn’t want to give the auto industry any direct money. Most experts believe that his approach would have ensured that the companies would not have survived bankruptcy.
Romney’s plan would have only given the auto industry federal loan guarantees but no direct federal aid. The auto industry needed more capital and it’s unlikely the private sector would have given money to an industry that has repeatedly gone downhill in many years. The President’s intervention has worked in the short term but the companies have yet to pay back all of loans so it’s important to recognize that the auto industry is still a work in progress.
The Romney campaign also picked up on one of the saddest pieces of reporting we’ve ever seen from the usually accurate Forbes. The story claimed that GM was headed for bankruptcy again. Since the release of the article, GM stock has soared. In reality, it is Mr. Romney’s major donors (banks) that have lost market share.
“Canada’s tax rate on companies is now 15 percent. Ours is 35 percent. So if you’re starting a business, where would you rather start it? We have to be competitive if we’re going to create more jobs here.” Conesia
This is an argument for lower taxes which most economists agree doesn’t create more jobs unless the tax cuts are specifically targeted. In order to compare tax rates across countries, as any international businessman such as Mr. Romney knows, you have to look at effective tax rates. The U.S. effective corporate tax rate is the second lowest in the world (pdf).
“And there’s no question but that Obamacare has been an extraordinary deterrent to enterprises of all kinds hiring people.”
Economists believe Obamacare will lower the deficit and create jobs. Anterograde Romnesia
“A recent study has shown the people in the middle-class will see $4,000.00 per year in higher taxes as a result of the spending and borrowing of this administration.” Anterograde Romnesia
Mr. Romney was fact checked on this during the first debate. His numbers don’t ad up.
“He keeps saying, ‘Look, I’ve created 5 million jobs.’ That’s after losing 5 million jobs. The entire record is such that the unemployment has not been reduced in this country.” Anterograde Romnesia
The President didn’t lose 5 million jobs. The Bush recession did. Furthermore, Mr. Romney didn’t blame President Bush for a smaller recession that began a year after he took office.
“Any investments I have over the last eight years have been managed by a blind trust. And I understand they do include investments outside the United States, including in — in Chinese companies." Conesia
The statement is deceptive because Romney previously claimed he had no Chinese investments until reporters found out he wasn’t telling the truth. Second, he doesn’t have a blind trust and the real issue is his profiting from shipping American jobs to China.
The idea goes to his credibility as a job creator as opposed to an outsourcer.
Factcheck.org pointed out
Romney said “a recent study has shown” that taxes “will” rise on the middle class by $4,000 as a result of federal debt increases recently Obama took office. Not true. That’s just one possible way debt service could be financed. Anterograde Romnesia
The President has said he will not finance the debt service in that way.
“I understand that I can get this country on track again. We don’t have to settle for what we’re going through. We don’t have to settle for gasoline at four bucks. We don’t have to settle for unemployment at a chronically high level. We don’t have to settle for 47 million people on food stamps. We don’t have to settle for 50 percent of kids coming out of college not able to get work. We don’t have to settle for 23 million people struggling to find a good job.” Anterograde Romnesia
If I become president, I’ll get America working again. " Sketchy Deal
He also said
“and likewise you’ve got more and more debt on your back. So more debt and less jobs. I’m going to change that. I know what it takes to create good jobs again. I know what it takes to make sure that you have the kind of opportunity you deserve. And kids across this country are going to recognize, we’re bringing back an economy. Sketchy Deal & Conesia
It’s not going to be like the last four years. The middle-class has been crushed over the last four years, and jobs have been too scarce. I know what it takes to bring them back" Anterograde Romnesia & Sketchy Deal
Romney has touted that he knows how to create jobs. However, he didn’t do that when he was governor of Massachusetts. As noted previously, he’s blaming the President for the Bush recession by using numbers that reflect the recession and not what the President has done to correct the problem.
And as noted above, Mr. Romney has no jobs plan.
“The unemployment rate was 7.8 percent when he took office, it’s 7.8 percent now. But if you calculated that unemployment rate, taking back the people who dropped out of the workforce, it would be 10.7 percent.” Anterograde Romnesia
It’s true that the President is to blame for that as is every other politician in Washington. No one has proposed a credible plan, although the problem has been around since 2001. In fact, given the recession it could be argued that the President’s trend line is as good as President Bush’s. According to the Washington Post, labor-force participation went from 67.2 in January 2001 to 65.7 in January 2009. It’s since fallen to 63.6. The President’s jobs bill would have partially addressed the outsourcing problem that is in part responsible for this trend but it was blocked by House Republicans as part of a political strategy that began the day the President was inaugurated.
Mr. Romney also said in regards to jobs,
“The answer is very straightforward. We can compete with anyone in the world as long as the playing field is level. China’s been cheating over the years. One by holding down the value of their currency. Number two, by stealing our intellectual property; our designs, our patents, our technology. There’s even an Apple store in China that’s a counterfeit Apple store, selling counterfeit goods. They hack into our computers. We will have to have people play on a fair basis, that’s number one.” Romnesia
Romney’s policies and business practices suggest that his claim is false. For example, his territorial tax system promotes American businesses such as his Bain overseas operations. It doesn’t promote American businesses and he wants to lower wages and reduce the Federal workforce by ten percent.
In reference to a question about his tax plan adding up, Romney said
“Well of course they add up. I — I was — I was someone who ran businesses for 25 years, and balanced the budget. I ran the Olympics and balanced the budget. I ran the — the state of Massachusetts as a governor, to the extent any governor does, and balanced the budget all four years. When we’re talking about math that doesn’t add up, how about $4 trillion of deficits over the last four years, $5 trillion?” Sketchy Deal
As The Impartial Review News noted and has since been noted by many others, Romney has given the Tax Policy Center and reporters insufficient information to infer much of anything about his deficit cutting activities which are not even mentioned on his website or his budget. His plan can’t possibly add up unless he reveals more details which he refuses to do. The only thing we can be sure of is that his plans will reduce middle class wages. Our original term for this was “Pig in the Poke” which David Axlerod has used. Lately, the President and Vice-President have used the term Sketchy Deal and Etch-a-Sketch deal.
“And I will not — I will not under any circumstances, reduce the share that’s being paid by the highest income taxpayers. And I will not, under any circumstances increase taxes on the middle-class.” Conesia & Sketchy Deal
Romney’s plan does reduce the share being paid by the highest income taxpayers in several ways and it also increases middle class burdens, indirectly. First, it repeals inheritance taxes for those making over $5 million which benefits the wealthy.
Second, the Tax Policy Center has said that his promises and math don’t add up. The Impartial Review News conducted a broader analysis and came to a similar conclusion with Romney’s math improving but with a spiraling debt. Something, other experts have recently begun to acknowledge.
The Impartial Review News found that Romney has stopped giving any specifics about his deficit reduction plans and it’s no longer mentioned in his policies on his website. Therefore, our conclusion is that Romney’s plan does work unless he’s willing to run up the deficit even more than President Bush did. Indirectly, the middle class burden is increased by dramatically reducing middle class wages. Lower wages means greater profits for high income taxpayers so that is another reason why despite Romney’s claims to the contrary, we believe his plan will hurt the middle class and help the wealthy. Higher deficits also put more pressure on congress to reduce Social Security and Medicare benefits that benefit the middle class.
In a similar vein, Mr. Romney said
“But your rate comes down and the burden also comes down on you for one more reason, and that is every middle-income taxpayer no longer will pay any tax on interest, dividends or capital gains. No tax on your savings. That makes life a lot easier.” Conesia
Low capital gains taxes mostly help the wealthy.
Mr. Romney’s lack of tax returns are in essence another Sketchy Deal. He asks us to believe that his tax returns wouldn’t reveal any problems when some have strongly argued they may even reveal illegality. There is no way of knowing unless he shows people what he’s been up to.
Equality for Women
In regards to a question about pay equity for women, Mr. Romney said
“We’re going to have to have employers in the new economy, in the economy I’m going to bring to play, that are going to be so anxious to get good workers they’re going to be anxious to hire women. In the — in the last women have lost 580,000 jobs. That’s the net of what’s happened in the last four years. We’re still down 580,000 jobs. I mentioned 3 1/2 million women, more now in poverty than four years ago.” Sketchy Deal & Anterograde Romnesia
The actual figure is 93,000. However, the job losses occurred in the first few months of his Presidency so it’s hard to argue that the President is to blame.
In addition, Romney didn’t answer the question. Rather, he deceptively argues that people will argue even women because there will be so many jobs. He’s hiding the fact that he has no intention to promote any policies that would prevent discriminatory practices.
“I went to a number of women’s groups and said, ‘Can you help us find folks,’ and they brought us whole binders full of women. I was proud of the fact that after I staffed my Cabinet and my senior staff, that the University of New York in Albany did a survey of all 50 states, and concluded that mine had more women in senior leadership positions than any other state in America.” Romnesia & Conesia
Mr. Romney didn’t ask for binders nor did he go to women’s groups. The Pheonix reported that the binders were created before he won the election and were presented to him from a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts. He also didn’t allow women to go home early for work.
Furthermore, his response is deceptive because it didn’t answer the question which was would he support women’s rights legislation. He doesn’t support such legislation.
“I’d just note that I don’t believe that bureaucrats in Washington should tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not. And I don’t believe employers should tell someone whether they could have contraceptive care of not. Every woman in America should have access to contraceptives." Conesia & Anterograde Romnesia
Mr. Romney claims that bureaucrats in Washington should not tell someone whether they can use contraceptives or not but no one is arguing for that.
This statement is very deceptive because it implies he supports the President’s regulations that make it illegal for employers to force employees to buy insurance without contraception coverage but he believes employers should be allowed to do just that.
What he’s actually saying is that he believes women should bear the additional cost of buying their contraceptives without insurance or they can look for a job with insurance that covers contraceptives.
“I’m going to help women in America get good work by getting a stronger economy and by supporting women in the workforce.” Sketchy Deal
This is the now the all to common deceptively vague sketchy deal or pig in the poke response that has become the hallmark of Romney’s campaign. He’s opposed to government plans for women’s equality so the reality is he doesn’t support government efforts to achieve equality.
What we can do to help young women and women of all ages is to have a strong economy, so strong that employers that are looking to find good employees and bringing them into their workforce and adapting to a flexible work schedule that gives women opportunities that they would otherwise not be able to afford. This is what I have done. It’s what I look forward to doing and I know what it takes to make an economy work, and I know what a working economy looks like." Conesia
A lot of words but no plan. Romney has no plan at all for pay equity for women and he didn’t allow women at his work flexible schedules (see above).
“The president’s policies throughout the Middle East began with an apology tour” Anterograde Romnesia
Politifact has given a number of Republicans including Mitt Romney a “Pants on Fire” rating for this Karl Rove invention.
“Consider the distance between ourselves and — and Israel, the president said that — that he was going to put daylight between us and Israel.” Anterograde Romnesia
That’s deceptive because Israel’s prime minister told CNN
“But I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing in regard to our security more than anything that I can remember in the past.”
“I want to make sure we get that for the record because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in Benghazi an act of terror.” Anterograde Romnesia
President Obama said it was a terrorist attack on many occasions including the day after the attack. He also mentioned it when he appeared on the David Letterman show four days later when he used the words extremists, terrorists and murderers.
“I was able also to get our schools ranked number one in the nation, so 100 percent of our kids would have a bright opportunity for a future.” Conesia
Schools were ranked number the day Mr Romney entered office as governor of Massachusetts.
“I want to make sure we keep our Pell grant program growing.”Romnesia
Mr. Romney has no plan to keep Pell grants and both he and Paul Ryan have said they will cut Pell grant funding.
“He said he would have by now put forward a plan to reform Medicare and Social Security, because he pointed out they’re on the road to bankruptcy.” Anterograde Romnesia
These programs are on a very long (decades) road to possible bankruptcy if no action is taken and a progressive solution has been blocked by Republicans in congress. The President has said he put no plans forward because he knew they would be blocked.
As noted above, Romney has no deficit plan. In fact, the word is hard to find on his website.
“We don’t have to settle for gasoline at four bucks.”Sketchy Deal
Mr. Romney hasn’t proposed a plan to lower gasoline prices. Instead, he has argued that more domestic oil and natural gas production will help but domestic production prices are for the most part influenced by international prices. Domestic production only lowers relatively minor shipping costs.
Domestic production helps more with trade imbalances and national security. It doesn’t lower costs to a significant degree. What does lower costs is competition. New lower cost processes and new low cost sources of energy are a means to reduce prices. Romney has no proposals in this area.
“And if we do that, if we do what I’m planning on doing, which is getting us energy independent, North America energy independence within eight years.” Sketchy Deal
Eliminating efficiency standards as Mr. Romney intends would make that goal difficult to achieve and as usual he has no plan with numbers or clearly stated intentions. North American energy independence is not a cost lowering idea because if you buy oil from Canada and Mexico, prices are still subject to the world market price. The idea does have foreign policy merits.
“And the president’s right in terms of the additional oil production, but none of it came on federal land. As a matter of fact, oil production is down 14 percent this year on federal land, and gas production was down 9 percent.” Anterograde Romnesia
That’s true for last year but not for the last four years. Also, see IV below.
“Because the president cut in half the number of licenses and permits for drilling on federal lands, and in federal waters.” Conesia
As the President explained, oil companies were keeping hold of permits but not using them so other oil companies couldn’t get at them. He told oil companies that you either use it or lose it. The idea is to open up more lands for actual oil company use instead of having them protect lands against competitors use.
“I believe very much in our renewable capabilities; ethanol, wind, solar will be an important part of our energy mix.” Romnesia Conesia
That’s deceptive because he doesn’t believe the government should support these activities. The oil industry has a huge infrastructure. In order to compete with that, renewable energies need help.
“The proof of whether a [energy] strategy is working or not is what the price is that you’re paying at the pump. If you’re paying less than you paid a year or two ago, why, then, the strategy is working. But you’re paying more.” Anterograde Romnesia
Mr. Romney also cites a misleading fact that oil prices were down when the President was in office. They were down due to the economic crisis. World prices influence the price of oil. Republicans have blocked legislation that would reduce oil speculation that would bring the price down somewhat.
If Mr. Romney wants to argue that President Obama should be more aggressive in some way that he needs to cite credible evidence and propose a specific plan. His ideas about the price of oil and lack of drilling permits are not credible as they don’t address the problem of oil prices and his evidence is misleading.
“Now, when the president ran for office, he said that he’d put in place, in his first year, a piece of legislation — he’d file a bill in his first year that would reform our — our immigration system… He didn’t do it. He had a Democrat House and Democrat Senate, supermajority in both houses.” Anterograde Romnesia & Conesia
The Democrats lost a supermajority in the Massachusett’s primary when Senator Kennedy died and before that his cancer made him too sick to vote. Several other sick Democrat Senators had trouble voting. In either case, that’s a problem with Democrats not the President. Republican’s repeatedly blocked progress including blocking the DREAM act. It also is highly misleading because that’s the position that Romney supports and he supports self-deportation.
“The kids of those that came here illegally, those kids, I think, should have a pathway to become a permanent resident of the United States and military service, for instance, is one way they would have that kind of pathway to become a permanent resident.” Conesia
Again, he has no stated plan other than to repeal the President’s program that allows these kids to stay in the country and his stated policy is one of self-deportation.
Violence and Firearms
“The — the greatest failure we’ve had with regards to — to gun violence in some respects is what — what is known as Fast and Furious. Which was a program under this administration, and how it worked exactly I think we don’t know precisely, where thousands of automatic, and AK-47 type weapons were — were given to people that ultimately gave them to — to drug lords.” Anterograde Romnesia & Romnesia
The statement is highly deceptive because it blames the administration that was exonerated for a program that began under the Bush Presidency. Also the biggest problem isn’t Fast and Furious. It’s the 31,347 firearm deaths from suicides and homicides per year. Romney has no plan for violence prevention.
“We, of course, don’t want to have automatic weapons, and that’s already illegal in this country to have automatic weapons.” Conesia
Automatic weapons are legal in this country but there are a lot of regulations. The assault weapons ban expired in 2004.
In regards to a question about how he is different from George Bush, Mr. Romney also answered with a lot of words but as Ezra Klein pointed out President Bush would agree with what he said. Romnesia
Here are Mr. Romney’s words.
“President Bush and I are — are different people and these are different times and that’s why my five point plan is so different than what he would have done.
I mean for instance, we can now, by virtue of new technology actually get all the energy we need in North America without having to go to the — the Arabs or the Venezuelans or anyone else. That wasn’t true in his time, that’s why my policy starts with a very robust policy to get all that energy in North America — become energy secure.
Number two, trade — I’ll crack down on China, President Bush didn’t. I’m also going to dramatically expand trade in Latin America. It’s been growing about 12 percent per year over a long period of time. I want to add more free trade agreements so we’ll have more trade.
Number three, I’m going to get us to a balanced budget. President Bush didn’t. President Obama was right, he said that that was outrageous to have deficits as high as half a trillion dollars under the Bush years. He was right, but then he put in place deficits twice that size for every one of his four years. And his forecast for the next four years is more deficits, almost that large. So that’s the next area I’m different than President Bush.
And then let’s take the last one, championing small business. Our party has been focused too long. I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business. That’s why everything I’ll do is designed to help small businesses grow and add jobs. I want to keep their taxes down on small business. I want regulators to see their job as encouraging small enterprise, not crushing it." Romnesia
As noted above, the only difference Mr. Rommey claims is that he will reduce the deficit but President Bush said that as well. In fact, we had trouble finding the word deficit on Mr. Romney’s website. Actually, President Bush endorsed the Balanced Budget Amendment which Romney has never done. Instead, President Bush ran up the deficit as The Impartial Review News suspects Mr. Romney will.
President Obama claims Mr. Romney has a condition called Romnesia. The scorecard for Romney’s second debate symptomatology includes episodes of Anterograde Romnesia(18), classic Romnesia(8), Conesia(16) and eight Sketchy Deals. This suggests Mr. Romney’s symptomatology is more advanced than others have suspected with more episodes of Anterograde Romnesia and Conesia than classic Romnesia. The Romans had a more succinct term for this sort of psychology – “Let the buyer beware.”
by Todd Miller
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