Political Animal


August 13, 2012 10:52 AM The Welfare Lie Continues

By Ed Kilgore

You’d think the widespread condemnation of Mitt Romney’s ad accusing Barack Obama of “gutting” the 1996 welfare reform law and abolishing its work requirements would have shamed his campaign into some modification of the lies it boldly presents. But no: a second version of the ad began hitting the airwaves in battleground states over the weekend. And Paul Ryan is hitting the same theme in his maiden voyage as Mitt’s running-mate.

The closest thing to a response to the critics of the exceptional mendacity of this attack theme coming from Team Mitt is to constantly refer to Obama’s original misgivings about the 1996 law when it was enacted. The new ad cites a 1998 speech by then-state-legislator Obama admitting he hadn’t been a supporter.

Aside from the fact that Mitt Romney is hardly in a position to hold anyone strictly accountable for positions taken in the 1990s, when he was a proud supporter of abortion rights and gay rights, it is important to remember that virtually all supporters of a welfare reform initiative focused on private-sector employment were ambivalent about the law, for the simple reason that the final compromise reflected Republican insistence on making time limits for assistance, state “flexibility,” and above all mandatory caseload reductions, competing priorities with job placement in the new system.

The Romney campaign can’t credibly point to anything Obama has done to undermine welfare reform as senator or as president. To the extent that robust “make work pay” provisions like the Earned Income Tax Credit are critical to a successful work-focused system, he has defended genuine welfare reform against repeated conservative assaults. The supposed “abolition” of work requirements Team Mitt continues to proclaim is purely and simply a lie. So the suggestion that Obama has always harbored some animus towards requiring anything of welfare recipients is just another effort to claim without evidence that the president is a stealth socialist whose secret Alinskyite plans are the important thing to know about him, particularly if you are a non-college educated white swing voter who might be suspicious of an African-American president who seems to be interested in shoveling unconditional taxpayer dollars to his friends. It’s a continuing lie intended to promote a Big Lie.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • RaflW on August 13, 2012 10:58 AM:

    As long as TeeVee stations willingly take the money and disclaim any responsibility for airing these lie-filled ads, there will be no level of shaming in the bloggy/pundity classes that will deter Mitt.

    His ads are targeted at low-info and base voters, not any of us who know he's lying out every orifice he possesses.

  • Epicurus on August 13, 2012 11:08 AM:

    I think, if you try really, really hard, you can just make out the high-pitched dog whistle in the background. Meanwhile, I'm making some popcorn; this is going to be one helluva show.

  • T2 on August 13, 2012 11:10 AM:

    I've heard/read several pieces calling this Welfare Lie a "stretch" or "misstatement" or "exaggeration of the truth" , etc. but have yet to see it labeled a LIE, as if it's just not acceptable to use that word. But I notice that the RNC and GOP Congressmen don't have any problem calling the President a liar.
    Put simply, Romney is getting away with murder here, lying on a daily basis and the Media is giving him a pass for sure. The only question is will that stop, or will we be lied to right up until the election. My guess is he will not be called out directly.

  • bdop4 on August 13, 2012 11:24 AM:

    Agree with T2. Someone prominent is going to have to invoke the L word on national television. They are also going to have to smack down any TV commentator that tries to sugarcoat it. Those people need to be shamed.

  • MuddyLee on August 13, 2012 11:26 AM:

    Does Paul Ryan thing the social security benefit checks he received after his father died when he was 16 constituted "welfare"?

  • stormskies on August 13, 2012 11:29 AM:

    One of the most astounding things about all these purposeful lies by buffoon Romney is when he is interviewed by Fox propaganda and he sits there complaining about the lies and dishonesty of Obama. This piece of shit sits there and actually says such a thing ..

    And, of course, a vast amount of the corporate media not only allows him to lie, but encourages it. Simply witness the spectacle last night of the corporate propagandist Bob Schieffer during his 60 minutes interview. And let's remember that during the whole time Obama has been president CBS/60 minutes has only had Steve Kroft interview Obama. Now they send in Bob Schieffer to do this. Wonder why.

    Repiglican cum slut Schieffer had on for three straight months on his "Face the Nation' only Repiglicans. Three straight months. And there this cum slut sat allowing Romney and Ryan to lie and lie some more as he gleefully smiled on.

  • Peter C on August 13, 2012 11:44 AM:

    I think what the Ryan pick means is that the Republican Party is doubling down on the big lie. They are betting that with their control of the media that they can successfully bamboozle the electorate that they've allowed to vote. They are betting on voter suppression and their skills as con-men and hucksters.

    It is a risky and desperate strategy.

    Luke: Your overconfidence is your weakness.
    The Emperor: Your faith in your friends is yours.

  • Gandalf on August 13, 2012 12:11 PM:

    Peter C it's interesting that you allude to the emperor from star wars. Because it's not far off from what's really happening is it?

  • Kathryn on August 13, 2012 12:21 PM:

    Just came home from the gym where In 40 minutes the welfare ad ran at least 10 times, the countering Obama ad ran maybe 3 times (in N, Virginia). IMO, the Obama ad does not pack the punch it should as the print was too small to read from the distance of exercisers. Last bit of Obama ad shows Bill Clinton (good) and a quote in larger type that says the welfare ad is not true. Don't know if the smaller print in ad uses lie word as I could not read it. In a normal setting, Obama ad could be read fine but not in a gym.

    Meanwhile, Sunday Washington Post on the Worst Week in Washington column chose not the lying welfare ad but the Priorities USA ad which aired only on the web about the steel worker whose wife died after benefit and job loss as having the worst week in Washington. I'm worried, every Romney ad for here on out will be a lie and they will get away with it. Democrats better start screaming liars from the rooftops and on air.

  • boatboy_srq on August 13, 2012 12:29 PM:

    @stormskies: Not astounding, just Mormon.

    - Lying to promote the faith / advance the church: good, justifiable and honorable.

    - One's opponent's just attacks on one's positions/behavior: indecent, improper, and worthy of condemnation as untruths.

    What makes it worse in this case is that we have a b###k President - that adds the uppity element to the mix, and makes those who are POd simply because TABMITWH less inclined to hear the Mormon-specific dogwhistles.

    BTW this is another reason Romney could never have chosen Rice as Veep: she's just too bla-, uh, moderate.

  • Tired Liberal on August 13, 2012 12:52 PM:

    When are the counter ads coming out that highlight Romney's own request as governor for "flexibility" in implementing the "welfare to work" requirements? Where are the counter ads that name the Republican governors who requested the exemptions? If Romney and Ryan want to get personal with dishonest claims it is time for Democrats to turn on the lights and spotlight the truth, even if it means calling out Mitt as a liar.

  • Ron Byers on August 13, 2012 1:01 PM:

    I was very dismayed the other day when my wife told me that she was mad at Obama for lying in the ad about the man who lost his wife. I told her that the ad wasn't Obama's and that it had only run on the web and that the ad might have streached the "truth" a little, but it was nothing compared to Romney's welfare whopper. She looked at me and said both sides lie but she expects more from Obama.

    The conversation encapsulated what is going on. Romney has decided to double down on the lie. His defense is to yell loudly that Obama is a liar. Many low information voters like my wife will soon believe that both sides are lying. Many of them will hold it against Obama because they expect more out of him.

    That is how you defend a lying strategy. Lie and call the victim a liar. A lot of people will buy the defense. Those that won't will blame both sides. A lot of them will sit at home. The sad thing is our press is more than down with the defense.

  • T2 on August 13, 2012 1:02 PM:

    the DesMoines Register today, in very nice language omitting the word LIE, wrote an op-ed saying Romney's Welfare ads against Obama were not based in reality (in other times this would be called a lie). But yet the Register goes on to say that Romney might win some votes because of this falsehood. Note to Register, if you want to call somebody a lier, just do it, and don't suggest there is a reward for lying.

    also.....I thought you guys were getting rid of Captcha?

  • boatboy_srq on August 13, 2012 1:02 PM:

    @Tired Liberal: perhaps they're putting together the montage, beginning with Multiple Position Mitt's own words:

    You know, in the past, when people pointed out that something was inaccurate, why, campaigns pulled the ad. They were embarrassed. Today, they just blast ahead."

    That's the best lead-in to the entire Romney ad campaign that could be written.

    Mind you, repeating what I said earlier, Romney's lies aren't especially surprising, just Mormon. After all, he's campaigning for pResident, for Pete's sake, and it's his turn (to bring LDS to power in Washington). So there.

    Captcha agrees: Occasions, lyersan.

  • Robert Waldmann on August 13, 2012 7:22 PM:

    I must leave well ground hatchet buried. I must leave my well ground hatchet buried. But you aren't making it easy.

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