Superstorm Sandy may have obscured the presidential campaign for a few days, but it couldn't hide the mendacious advertising blitz Mitt Romney launched in Ohio last week to tar the auto industry bailout that made so many Ohioans so grateful for President Obama's courage and vision.
Romney's transparently false smear is remarkable in several ways. It comes after he shifted his patently clear anti-bailout position to a feint in which he claimed that he was really for it -- sort of -- before his latest lie that the bailout isn't working because Chrysler is going to build more cars in China and take those jobs out of Ohio.
The way he now tells the story in his new campaign ads and speeches, the auto bailout was designed to help autoworkers' unions, and Chrysler sold out to Italians who are now going to shift Jeep production jobs from Toledo to China.
Problem is, there's nothing true about any of the multiple lies in his gutter campaign attack.
The auto-bailout smear
Unions took an unsparing beating in wage, pension , health-care and job cuts in the federally expedited bankruptcy. Chrysler's and General Motors' executives, management and stockholders were forced to take deep cuts and losses. And Chrysler ultimately had to concede the biggest chunk of its ownership to Fiat. And on top of all that, Obama had to agree to an $80 billion loan that Romney swore, and still swears, he would never have made, though he now walks around saying this was precisely the sort of "managed bankruptcy" that he advocated all along.
Wrong. Dead wrong. He knows that there was no private equity money available to leverage the auto bankruptcy: If Obama hadn't stepped up, GM and Chrysler would have folded, and taken down millions of related jobs, and a big chunk of America's future prosperity, competitiveness and manufacturing base. So Romney cannot honestly pretend that the managed bankruptcy he says he now supports actually would have happened.
Nor can Romney honestly say, as he now pretends in his latest ads, that Chrysler will shift American jobs from Ohio to China to build Jeeps there. Chrysler's chief executive, Sergio Marchionne, was furious about Romney's smear. He said Chrysler will add 1,100 new jobs in Toledo, Ohio, to produce a new line of Jeeps, and that Chrysler's increasing production in China will serve only China, not exports.
"I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China," he asserted. "Jeep assembly lines will remain in operation in the United States and will constitute the backbone of the brand."
A General Motors executive spoke out to say that Romney's blast at the auto industry constituted "cynical campaign politics at its worst."
Ohioans, of course, know better than to believe Romney's smear. Sales of GM and Chrysler's cars are rapidly increasing, Ohio's economy and jobless numbers lead most states, and they can see the ripple effects of the rescued auto jobs that Romney would have tossed away. If anything, Romney's big lies about the auto industry bailout are likely to harm his support in Ohio.
Many other lies
Regardless, Romney's penchant for fabricating and telling outright lies like this throughout his campaign has been brazen and stunning. Here are a few of the dozens of blatant and well-documented lies that he has repeatedly stated:
• That after he abolishes Obamacare, people with pre-existing conditions would still be able to get health insurance. Truth: Romney's own advisers confirm that he means people who have continuous health insurance would not be excluded for pre-existing conditions. But that's the law now for employer group insurance, as facilitated by COBRA in interim joblessness. People with pre-existing conditions who are now denied health insurance would still be denied.
• That Medicare would not be affected for people 60 or over. In fact, their premiums would go up almost immediately because projected Medicare revenue -- the legal annual basis for adjusting Medicare premiums -- would decline dramatically under Romney's voucherized Medicare plan, as would seniors' health-care services, physician pools, new preventive care standards and the Medicare trust fund. The latter would go into the red by 2016, requiring even deeper cuts to correct that trajectory.
• That Obama would rob Medicare of $716 billion to fund the Affordable Care Act. Truth: The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office shows Obama would cut projected overpayments to insurers for Advantage and Medicare waiver plans and provider fees, and put those savings into new Medicare preventive and general care services, a rapid phase-out of the doughnut hole prescription exclusions, and broader core services.
• That he would provide $5 trillion in new tax cuts, including 20 percent for the super-rich, plus $1 trillion more to extend the Bush tax cuts for the top 2 percent, by closing tax loopholes and without raising taxes on the middle-class. Romney hasn't and can't show how he would accomplish this. Tax experts uniformly say he would have to raise taxes on the middle-class by cutting their tax credits because there aren't enough other loopholes to prop up the budget.
Romney's baseless fabrications on a range of topics are endless, as is his airbrushing of his off-shored jobs, egregious use of foreign tax havens, his promised repeal of the Dodd-Frank financial reform act, and so on. Indeed, his falsehoods are as egregious as his bushel load of flip-flops on virtually every major issue he comes across. His low standards for honesty and candor suggest a grim and painful fallout if Americans elect him as president.