Another day and another attack from pathological liar Mitt Romney which is purely fictitious. Today Romney launched a blatantly dishonest attack claiming Obama will “gut welfare reform” when actually Obama is supporting policies supported by Mitt Romney and many other Republicans. For those tired of going through all the details of all the lies from Mitt Romney the key thing to know is that it is not true that Obama is eliminating the requirement to work. For those who want more, Steve Benen provided this explanation:
Romney’s lying. He’s not spinning the truth to his advantage; he’s not hiding in a gray area between fact and fiction; he’s just lying. The law hasn’t been “gutted”; the work requirement hasn’t been “dropped.” Stations that air this ad are disseminating an obvious, demonstrable lie.
All Obama did is agree to Republican governors’ request for flexibility. That’s it. Indeed, perhaps the most jaw-dropping aspect of this is that Romney himself, during his one gubernatorial term, asked for the same kind of flexibility on welfare law that Obama agreed to last month. Romney, in other words, is attacking the president for doing what Romney asked the executive branch to do in 2005.
The entire line of attack is simply insane.
And that brings us back to the test for the political world.
How are we to respond to a campaign that deliberately deceives the public without shame? This lie about welfare policy comes on the heels of Romney’s lie about voting rights in Ohio, which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about the economy; which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about health care; which came on the heels of Romney’s lies about taxes.
The Republican nominee for president is working under the assumption that he can make transparently false claims, in writing and in campaign advertising, with impunity. Romney is convinced that there are no consequences for breathtaking dishonesty.
Ed Kilgore discussed the issue further, concluding:
Wonkery aside, it’s no mystery why the Romney campaign and its supporters are pursuing this dishonest and deeply hypocritical tack. In a “memorandum” released to support the new ad’s claims, Romney campaign policy director Lanhee Chan accuses Obama of inflicting “a kick in the gut to the millions of hard-working middle-class taxpayers struggling in today’s economy, working more for less but always preferring self-sufficiency to a government handout.” It’s the old welfare-queen meme, which Republicans have already been regularly reviving in their attacks on the Affordable Care Act, on Medicaid, on food stamps, and in their much broader and horrifyingly invidious claims that poor and minority people deliberately taking out mortgages they knew they couldn’t afford caused the whole housing market collapse and the financial crisis that followed.
The claim that Obama is quietly bringing back the old welfare system is perfectly designed to bring back the old politics of the 1980s, when Republicans constantly (and often successfully) sought to pit middle-class voters against the poor while distracting attention from the vast welfare system supporting corporations and the wealthy.
Unlike ACA, Medicaid or even food stamps, there’s very little public support for the pre-1996 welfare system. So Romney and conservatives can go absolutely wild with this attack line, hauling in every racial innuendo imaginable with relatively little fear of blowback. As a bonus, I am sure Team Mitt is abundantly aware that many progressives disliked the 1996 law intensely and/or thought Clinton “caved” to Republicans in signing it (and I can confidently say that even those Democrats who approved of Clinton’s action were for the most party deeply conflicted about it; I certainly was). So they probably hope their attacks spur some internal recriminations within Obama’s own party and voting coalition.
All in all, this development in the campaign is a very nasty piece of work that I hope, but do not expect, Republicans come to regret.
An election campaign should be a debate between the different ideas of each party. If Republicans have objections to Obama’s policies and beliefs they should criticize these–not repeatedly attribute beliefs to Obama which he does not have and lie about the policies he has supported. The problem that the Republicans face is that a majority of Americans, and often a majority of Republicans, support the positions promoted by liberals when polled based upon positions and not party. In order to pursue policies which are actually only supported by a tiny minority of Americans, Republicans such as Romney must resort to lying about Democratic policies and beliefs to scare people into voting for them.