Debate Debrief: Romney vs. The Truth

Wondering how to talk about last night’s debate?  We’ve already had some great discussion about it over on FD’s facebook wall.  Message Matters has also now put out these great talking point.  FD’s own Eric Sapp (@SappEric) is one of the lead editors on this daily messaging memo.

Debate Debrief: Romney vs. The Truth

We watched the debate, heard the pundits react, and read the fact-checkers. Here’s what’s next.


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STRATEGY

  • We have these tasks at hand:
    • Answer the question of who performed well on the national stage.
    • Make values ascendant and call out Romney for lying. A winning strategy does all.
  • On values: we heard many policy details and numbers last night, but underlying these layers is a difference of values and vision for America. We must raise values back up to the top.
  • On facts: we must not let the lies go unaddressed, but not let values go either. Romney is misrepresenting his own plans because he knows the vision and values they represent are unpopular. Expose the truth in a way that makes the choice between the two visions in this election clear.
  • On framing: this is about Romney vs. The Truth. This allows us to move past the debate performances and towards the broader themes characterizing this election.

THE PERFORMANCES
What happened last night? Just what we expected:

  • The incumbent president, who’s been busy governing the country, faced a challenger who has nothing else to do other than try to unseat his opponent.
  • Romney practiced for this particular debate all summer, after years of running for president and squaring off against his primary opponents in 23 debates this year alone.
  • True to his campaign’s declaration that they do not care what the fact checkers say, Romney kept repeating the same falsehoods he has used throughout his campaign.
  • If a politician is willing to say anything, it’s not hard to win. If Romney won last night, then the truth lost.

THE VALUES UNDERLYING THE TRUTH
TAXES

Romney’s tax plan really does raise taxes on the middle class to cut them for millionaires.

  • Do we want a country where everybody pays their fair share — or a country where working families pay higher taxes than millionaires and billionaires?
  • Do we want a country where “we’re all in it together,” with citizens lifting up and taking responsibility for one another and for themselves — or “I’ve got mine, you’re on your own”?
  • Let’s remember what Romney said behind closed doors about half of America, including working families, students, and retired seniors: they’re irresponsible dependents who aren’t paying taxes.
  • No wonder his tax plan would make you pay more so the richest few can pay less. It’s as if Romney thinks that struggling people aren’t struggling enough and our middle class isn’t already bearing enough of the burden.

FACT: Romney’s $5 trillion tax plan would cut taxes for a wealthy and raise them for working families – making a middle class family pay $2,000 more so a multimillionaire can pay $250,000 less.

FACT: Independent think tanks and fact checkers have clearly established that what Romney is claiming about his tax plan — cut middle class taxes, keep them the same for the wealthy, and not add to the deficit — is mathematically impossible.

FACT: The five studies that Romney cited to back up his claims, as well as criticisms of the Tax Policy Center’s findings, don’t exist or contradict Romney’s claims.


MEDICARE

Romney’s plan really is to replace guaranteed Medicare with little vouchers and make seniors go fight the insurance companies.

  • Americans pay into Medicare with each paycheck, expecting that Medicare will be there for them so they can retire in dignity.
  • After a lifetime of working hard and playing by the rules, our seniors deserve to expect that Medicare will continue to guarantee their health coverage for life.
  • True to the idea that we’re in this together and we’re stronger for it, Medicare uses the massive negotiating clout of the nearly 50 million Americans with Medicare now to keep costs down for all.
  • But Romney would end Medicare as we know it. He wants to give seniors a little coupon and make them go fight with the big insurance companies to get coverage.

FACT: Obamacare preserves every dime of Medicare benefits and guarantees your Medicare coverage for life. Romney-Ryan does not.

FACT: Romney is attacking Obamacare for the same $700 billion savings from cutting waste out of Medicare — which he supported. Except now he’d put that waste back into Medicare, shortening the life of its trust fund.


DEFICIT

The best way to deal with the deficit is to put Americans back to work — not fire Big Bird.

  • The best way to deal with the deficit is to put Americans back to work.
  • Romney’s plan to deal with the deficit? Fire Big Bird.
  • When your family needs money to repair the roof, you stop handing out gifts to your millionaire uncle instead of raiding your child’s college savings.

FACT: Under President Obama, the private sector has created five million jobs over the past 30 months. Romney’s “jobs plan” would mean massive layoffs – two million jobs lost in the next two years alone.

FACT: Actually, contrary to Romney’s lie about doubling the deficit, President Obama cut the deficit. Whether you’re comparing the deficit now to its size when Obama took office or as a share of the economy, the deficit is lower.

FACT: Romney’s own party pushed for the Bush policies behind today’s deficits — including the wasteful Bush tax cuts for the richest 2% and the recession that threw taxpayers off their jobs.

We develop messaging by aggregating, analyzing and distilling polling, tested messaging, and expert recommendations, and monitoring the media to identify what is and isn’t working. See here for some of the experts and organizations we draw on.

  • Frank

    Romney spoke more truth last night than the Dems have in four years. Bye Bye Dems and welcome to the White House President Romney!

  • Frank

    OBAMA: “Gov. Romney’s central economic plan calls for a $5 trillion tax cut — on top of the extension of the Bush tax cuts, that’s another trillion dollars — and $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for. That’s $8 trillion. How we pay for that, reduce the deficit, and make the investments that we need to make, without dumping those costs onto middle-class Americans, I think is one of the central questions of this campaign.”

    THE FACTS: Obama’s claim that Romney wants to cut taxes by $5 trillion doesn’t add up. Presumably, Obama was talking about the effect of Romney’s tax plan over 10 years, which is common in Washington. But Obama’s math doesn’t take into account Romney’s entire plan.

    Romney proposes to reduce income tax rates by 20 percent and eliminate the estate tax and the alternative minimum tax. The Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group, says that would reduce federal tax revenues by $465 billion in 2015, which would add up to about $5 trillion over 10 years.

    However, Romney says he wants to pay for the tax cuts by reducing or eliminating tax credits, deductions and exemptions. The goal is a simpler tax code that raises the same amount of money as the current system but does it in a more efficient manner.

    The knock on Romney’s plan, which Obama accurately cited, is that Romney has refused to say which tax breaks he would eliminate to pay for the lower rates.

    OBAMA: It’s important “that we take some of the money that we’re saving as we wind down two wars to rebuild America.”

    THE FACTS: This oft-repeated claim is based on a fiscal fiction. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were paid for mostly with borrowed money, so stopping them doesn’t create a new pool of available cash that can be used for something else, like rebuilding America. It just slows down the government’s borrowing.

    ROMNEY: “At the same time, gasoline prices have doubled under the president. Electric rates are up.”

    THE FACTS: He’s right that the average price has doubled, and a little more, since Obama was sworn in.

    OBAMA: “Independent studies looking at this said the only way to meet Gov. Romney’s pledge of not … adding to the deficit is by burdening middle-class families. The average middle-class family with children would pay about $2,000 more.”

    THE FACTS: That’s just one scenario. Obama’s claim relies on a study by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research group. The study, however, is more nuanced than Obama indicated.

    The study concludes it would be impossible for Romney to meet all of his stated goals without shifting some of the tax burden from people who make more than $200,000 to people who make less.

    In one scenario, the study says, Romney’s proposal could result in a $2,000 tax increase for families who make less than $200,000 and have children.

    Romney says his plan wouldn’t raise taxes on anyone, and his campaign points to several studies by conservative think tanks that dispute the Tax Policy Center’s findings. Most of the conservative studies argue that Romney’s tax plan would stimulate economic growth, generating additional tax revenue without shifting any of the tax burden to the middle class. Congress, however, doesn’t use those kinds of projections when it estimates the effect of tax legislation.

  • Brian Maple

    Frank:

    Mitt Romney did not speak the truth last night. He was snide, slick, and confident because he knew he was backed by a year of well-rehearsed deliveries that give the impression of good debating skills but have no real weight beneath them.

    If you would pay close attention to the actual evidence, produced by non-biased, independent studies, you would see that Romney has not produced plans that would ensure a stable future for the American people. For example, at the beginning of this week, it was noted that under Mr. Romney’s tentative and first-draft (because that is all he has released so far) health-care planning, that by year 2020, there will be 72 million American people without any health insurance whatsoever. This is a huge step backward.

    Further, since our President and Mr. Romney so clearly differ on their philosophical approach to what makes a strong economy there will probably always be disagreements about it and so instead, I ask of you this:

    If you really hope for the Republicans to lead the country for these next four years you need to look carefully into all of the many facets of responsibility that the presidency entails. Because, if you do – I believe that you will see that Mr. Romney does not have your best interests in mind. Whether this ranges from issues like climate change (which he considers not a priority), to education (he plans to minimize and/or close the Department of Education) – or to social issues, like women’s rights (Paul Ryan voted, on record, *against American women being able to be paid the same rate as American men in the work-force, *cease all funding for Planned Parenthood which provides cancer screenings, sexual education, counseling, and birth control to at-risk youth populations at no-cost throughout the U.S. and *Explore imposing a law that bans certain or all forms of fertility treatment for women who cannot have children naturally, Mr. Romney expressed *agreement with this decision, but deny it has to do with either of their own religious beliefs) or equal rights (Mr. Romney *opposes equal rights [hospital visitation, etc.] for gay people) I sincerely feel that when one takes five minutes to look at the greater picture of all that Romney stands for you will see that it is not in the best interest of all American people to have him as the leader of this country. There are people who are in tough times. Because of the economy, yes. But also because of age, health, gender, abuse, poverty, homophobia, racism, veteran-issues and many, many other issues.

    Mr. Romney was an extraordinary business man. This country is not a business. America is full of people. And they need help. And that is why they are voting for President Obama. It is why they did before and why they will do so again.

    Check the polls.

    Warm regards,

    Brian Maple

  • Frank

    Brian your bias is showing and your rhetoric is thick. I prefer the actual truth.

    Romney presented a more clear and successful direction for our country. He embarrassed Obama (not hard to do just point out his miserable record for the last four years) and despite the denial happening he went a long way towards getting elected this fall. Bye bye Obama!

    You can keep spinning it but ultimately people are too smart to fall for it.

    • Sundown

      And Frank, your inability to use commas is showing.

      • Frank

        Guilty as charged!

  • ToronadoBlue

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=iNhUI8ktHuw

    Didn’t see the debate but this is funny.


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