Political Animal


September 10, 2012 8:44 AM Mendacity Is Romney’s Pre-Existing Condition

By Ed Kilgore

On Meet the Press yesterday, Mitt Romney offered another phantom move on health care, implying that he’d keep such elements of the Affordable Care Act as the ban on exclusions for pre-existing conditions and an extension of the time during which a child can be kept on parental policies. In other words, he’d keep the popular stuff (no word yet, however, on the Medicare “doughnut hole,” the 80/20 rule that is already generating insurance rebates, and free preventive care, even though these provisions are already taking effect).

To the surprise of no one who has been following Romney’s astonishingly twisted path on health care policy, staff were soon dispatched to “clarify” what Mitt meant, and it’s sure not what he implied on MTP: he’s confident the markets will offer policies covering young adults under their parents’ plans, and he’ll ensure some kind of coverage to people with pre-existing conditions who haven’t let their coverage lapse (a slice of the population largely covered under existing law); if his past statements are any indication, this will wind up meaning that such folk would be covered under the kind of crappy state risk pool plans that already provide poor coverage at crazy high prices.

So once again, Mitt makes a reasonable sounding statement in front of a large audience, knowing he won’t be forced to disclose any details or actually make sense, and only later do we find out that it’s all smoke.

The maddening thing, of course, is that Mitt Romney knows better than anyone in America that you can’t provide universal and affordable coverage to people with pre-existing conditions without a much broader risk pool, which is precisely why he supported the imposition of an individual mandate in Massachusetts. Since a very important part of his devil’s bargain with the GOP is to forget everything he’s ever known about health policy, it’s not surprising he feigns ignorance about how private health insurance actually operates. But this is one area of public policy where absolutely no one from Left to Right has any reason to believe a word he is saying.

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.


  • Bo on September 10, 2012 9:03 AM:

    All in all, it was a terrible, no-good, very bad day for the GOP presi-"dunce"-ial ticket. They ventured away from the sheltering arms of FoxSnooze to hit all the actual Sunday news programs and got eviscerated.
    Norah O'Donnell and George Stephanopoulis took Ryan apart and Romney whiffed on sycophantic softballs lobbed to him by David Gregory.
    I predict that both of these magpies will retreat to the comfort of the GOP Propaganda channel for the next eight weeks. They are clearly not ready for prime-time.

  • c u n d gulag on September 10, 2012 9:12 AM:

    What @Bo said!

    Jayzoos H. Keerist, luaghing at the Devil 'cause he ain't got no pants on, if you can't handle questions from Dancin' Dave, Ignorah O'Donnell, and George Vowelalotalous, you need to go home and weep the bitter tears of your coming defeat where at least the few people that DO love you, can comfort you.

    If incoherence was a virtue, these would be righteously virtuous men.

  • davidp on September 10, 2012 9:18 AM:

    I'd think that the GOP base and the conservative pooh-bahs will have been severely demoralized by the headlines. That Romney is backtracking so soon on his commitment to repeal Obamacare will surely confirm the reservations they've had about him from the start. This is the kind of thing that will depress the GOP turnout.

  • MuddyLee on September 10, 2012 9:20 AM:

    They are confused about Obamacare and Romneycare - and beginning to realize that most people find a lot of things to like about Obamacare (which is sort of a national version of Romneycare, so how is it "evil"?). They are LYING about their tax cuts for the rich being matched by elimination of deductions. And if they eliminate all these deductions for the super rich, who is going to provide the funding for rightwing think tanks and "social welfare" Karl Rove type organizations? And they think all government spending should be reduced - except for that super-efficient spender of government money, the military. People, please - do not let these crazy people win the election.

  • Kathryn on September 10, 2012 9:31 AM:

    As Gov. Deval Patrick said in his speech in Charlotte, Romney liked the idea of being governor of Massachusetts, he just didn't like doing the job. That it isn't abundantly clear to all how unprepared and lacking in basic knowledge Romney is, with Ryan running a close second, is mindblowing. No amount of debate prep can help this guy, his positions don't add up, he's not adequate at spinning them and he has an off putting personality to boot. He oozes with entitlement and superiority.

  • Celui on September 10, 2012 9:39 AM:

    So--Romney tries to find a niche argument to float over the public airwaves and, once again, it pretty much goes unchallenged by the moderator. What else is news? Romney's got to be smarter (not 'confused' here--just plain lying). As is pointed out: the only way to include coverage for everyone even with pre-existing conditions (the healthcare industry's nomenclature for excluding customers who might actually need coverage now or pretty soon) is to make the insurance pool so large as to offset the pre-existing coverage costs. Even I, a 60s-era liberal-arts major, understand that. Now, when is someone on the national newsfront going to begin to make these idiotic airheaded claims from the GOP into front-page news?? The public will hear what it wants to hear, or what it thinks it hears in soundbites; make this stuff the core of a genuine journalist's calling> think: Diane Rehm, Bill Moyers, Michael Winship, Gwen Ifill. What do they have in common?? Maybe that's why PBS/NPR is so often on the funding chopping block. Ya think? Craptcha says: 'was ingamervo'--middle Latin for something I'm sure. Second try: 'son adraques' No doubt a bit player in a second-rate Shakespearean production.

  • boatboy_srq on September 10, 2012 9:43 AM:


    This is why I say Romney is running for pResident: note the caps (that's not a typo).

    Romney isn't really running for pResident - he's interviewing for CEO. And he's even doing that badly. I'm reminded of all those Presidential boobs from Clear and Present Danger, The Pelican Brief and the other films where the guy in the WH is useless or worse: this is the kind of pResident we'd get in Romney. Norquist, Cantor and DeMint might be happy with that - Romney is, presumably, sufficiently capable to affix his own signature to things - but the rest of us would be effed, and two successive worse-than-useless-pResidents in a row would probably kill the GOTea (though the cost would probably be too high for that lesson).

  • jomo on September 10, 2012 9:47 AM:

    Romney has an astonishing lack of message discipline for someone who was a CEO. I can't imagine that this was deliberate or premeditated as he gets kicked in the ass everytime he does this. It seems that he literally says whatever he thinks will get him more traction in each situation. But the bigger picture always catches up.

  • N.Wells on September 10, 2012 9:48 AM:

    Romney may look good during the debate, and I'm sure our fine and paid-for media will spin him as exceeding (very low) expectations (as with Bush in both his elections). However, he has not held coherent and consistent positions, and he's been attacking an imaginary version of Obama, and I don't see how either can be maintained through a debate. I'm anticipating plentiful bald lies about new positions.

    Also, Romney is deeply uninformed about foreign policy, so I suspect he will be expending a whole lot of time boning up on basic foreign policy details, including names of foreign leaders. He's not stupid, so he'll do fine with that, but it's going to cost time that he sorely needs for other things.

  • Mudge on September 10, 2012 9:51 AM:

    Gradually, the bloggers (Benen now Ed) are coming around to the default position that Romney is lying. Of course that is just a subset of the more general truth, Republicans are lying. Some pundits (see Ezra Klein) still take pronouncements seriously and try to logically answer. A fools errand. The puzzling aspect sometimes is whether he's lying directly or whether his lies are lies. Now the "Mitt will govern as a moderate" foolishness is being bandied around again. So did Mitt lie about existing medical conditions to Gregory (which is contrary to his base's desires), or is his staff's walk back a lie? That is the discussion the pundits should have. Is Mitt a lying moderate or a lying right wing radical?

    A future case in point: Rand Paul's shocked response to Paul Krugman's true statement that government jobs are down since Obama took over (by 500,000+). Rand Paul illustrated how uninformed he is, but now let's see if the meme that Obama has massively increased the number of government jobs gets pulled from campaign rhetoric. I wager it won't.

    Krugman calls them zombie lies, but for the base they are lies of faith.

  • jjm on September 10, 2012 10:22 AM:

    Remind me again, just exactly WHY is it that Romney wants to be president?

  • stormskies on September 10, 2012 10:22 AM:

    David "I am not a used corporate condom" Gregory demonstrated, yet again, that in fact he is. This Repiglican cum slut is a clear and present danger to our country, as is most of the corporate media in general. Did anyone notice the used condom's face while he was 'interviewing' the Romney ? He looked like a little boy looking at a fucking hero.

    They are white collar criminals on par with a kind of mafia which is why they are called 'the villagers'.

  • Peter C on September 10, 2012 10:27 AM:

    I think the central academic question of this election will be: "does lying matter if you have enough money?".

    The Republicans are betting that it doesn't and they will spend obscene amounts and use all the procedural tricks and voter-suppression tactics to test the hypothesis. They are not even bothering to hide their lies; they are doubling down.

    I have a gut feeling that no one likes to be lied to. I think our best bet is to express our OUTRAGE that they would DARE to do it! It is up to us. We must do it so that others might see our indignation and share it. We must do it because Obama CAN'T; he cannot afford to appear to be the 'angry black man'. The Republicans KNOW THIS. They also know that WE value politeness and civility, but we must find a way to muster our anger and let it out while the cameras are rolling. If there is a debate in your area, go armed with a question which confronts a Republican about his LIES and see if you can speak for the 'lied-to populace'. Start politely, with calm, clear recitation of facts and the LET IT RIP at the end.

    We have a representative democracy; WE don't make the laws - we have 'representatives' in Congress who do this for us. If they don't tell us the truth, we have neither representation nor democracy. We must insist that they tell the truth and PUNISH LYING or we lose our opportunity of self-governing. If the Republicans make this work, we'll have lost it both for 'ourselves and our posterity'.

  • Anonymous on September 10, 2012 10:39 AM:

    MuddyLee: "People, please - do not let these crazy people win the election."

    I'm sorry, but as a reader of the also excellent progressive/gay AmericaBlog, I have been totally convinced by the commenters (not the bloggers) there that both candidates and both parties are exactly the same bought off by corporations and Wall Street deals. You know, just like Al Gore and G Bush II were exactly the same and any moral progressive person was obligated to vote for Ralph Nader instead of the possibly only very slightly lesser of two evils, Al Gore.

    As you will clearly remember, the Bush administration was definitely not a whit different from what a Gore administration would have been.

    As commenters at AmericaBlog have personally pointed out to me, any progressive who would even think of voting for Obama is nothing but a sold-out drank-the-koolaide "Obamabot".

  • boatboy_srq on September 10, 2012 10:50 AM:

    I'm hardly a GOP stalwart, but over this campaign eternity (it's hardly a season) it's become clear to me that the GOTea could have nominated Teddy the Wonder Lizard and been more respectable. Romney is a danger: not just because he's clueless, or Reichwing - but because he's fundamentally, situationally dishonest. How do you elect somebody you can't trust to tell you the truth about current weather conditions (never mind major policy initiatives or the SOTU) to the Presidency?

    By nominating Romney, the GOTea has said - loudly, clearly and with weight - that they don't respect that office. Never mind whether you think BHO is doing a good/fair job: at least he's doing the job, and that's more than the GOTea apparently demands or even expects.

    In 2008 there was semi-humorous talk about a GOP pResidential ticket "Riddle/Malfoy." This year, we get to see what that looks like - on camera, and (if we can stomach the rallies) in person.

  • rip on September 10, 2012 10:56 AM:

    Romney isn't getting any traction with his lies because he's not very convincing when he does it, unlike Ryan, who will remain a Republican superstar even after a Romney loss because he lies with conviction.

  • DRF on September 10, 2012 11:05 AM:

    jomo is right that this reflects a real lack of message discipline on Romney's part. This is due in part to the fact that he has taken so many different positions on so many issues that he's having an increasingly more difficult time remembering where he is on any given issue. Part of the reason for this is also the fact that he's trying to straddle an increasingly wider gulf between the views of the Republican base and the views of moderates/independents that he knows he needs to win over in order to get elected.

    But let me add a possible third cause for this lack of disciplne--maybe Romney isn't the incredibly smart guy that we have all been led to believe or he is a smart guy but just isn't sufficiently interested in policy to study up on it and really understand it. Is it possible that Romney is just coasting through this campaign intellectually? He clearly hasn't put in any real effort to understand foreign policy issues, and misstatements of the sort reported in this post suggest that he's even confused on health care policy.

  • emjayay on September 10, 2012 11:16 AM:

    The Monday 11am news on NPR just repeated Romney's MTP statement about pre-existing conditions without mentioning that the whole truth was quite a different thing. Then they repeated some other lie which I can't remember. Damn that ultra-liberal Obama loving tax dollar sucking NPR.

  • Robert from upstate on September 10, 2012 11:18 AM:

    I agree with most of the above- particularly Kathryn , but can't figure out WTF "Anonymous" is at- but on the subject of Romney's motives/reasons for repeatedly lying (and lying about his lies) I recommend Taibbi's analysis in "Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital":

    "He's a flip-flopper, they say, a lightweight, a cardboard opportunist who'll say anything to get elected.

    The critics couldn't be more wrong. Mitt Romney is no tissue-paper man. He's closer to being a revolutionary, a backward-world version of Che or Trotsky, with tweezed nostrils instead of a beard, a half-Windsor instead of a leather jerkin. His legendary flip-flops aren't the lies of a bumbling opportunist they're the confident prevarications of a man untroubled by misleading the nonbeliever in pursuit of a single, all-consuming goal. Romney has a vision, and he's trying for something big: We've just been too slow to sort out what it is, just as we've been slow to grasp the roots of the radical economic changes that have swept the country in the last generation."

    Read more: http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/greed-and-debt-the-true-story-of-mitt-romney-and-bain-capital-20120829#ixzz265280Qdc

  • Zorro on September 10, 2012 11:24 AM:

    only later do we find out that its all smoke.

    And mirrors! Don't forget the mirrors!

    Can't forget the mirrors,

  • Dress Left on September 10, 2012 11:50 AM:

    From one of the Mitt / Kennedy Senate debates:

    Mitt: I'm pro choice.

    Ted: Pro choice? You're multiple choice.

    Truer now than ever.

  • Peter C on September 10, 2012 11:51 AM:

    I'm sorry, but we don't need anonymous concern trolls telling us that and Al Gore administration would have been identical to the Bush II debacle; that's absurd.

    While both George W. Bush and Al Gore ran as 'middle of the road' types, Bush and the Republicans ruled from 2001 to 2007 as 'hard right'. The budgets of 2001 and 2003 were not 'middle of the road'; they were massively irresponsible and 'redistributed' billions of dollars to the ultra-wealthy to 'solve' the 'problem' of a shrinking national debt (in 2001) and then to 'stimulate' a sluggish economy after the tech bubble. The idea that Gore would have implemented this sort of reckless give-away is ridiculous.

    Furthermore, Bush had plans to 'deal with Iraq' as soon as the inauguration-oath bible had been put away; his own Treasury Secretary has said so. Would Gore have invented a fraudulant case for invading Iraq? Again, that's absurd.

    I'm all in favor of voting for more progressive candidates IN THE PRIMARY. This is the venue for expressing my opinions (which are more progressive than recent Democratic nominees). But, a general election is NOT the appropriate venue. Yes, Obama is not as progressive as I'd like, and he's adopted a concillatory style and worked to find middle ground with people who want only an impossible free-market utopia with perfect markets and no government. He's bending over backwards to try to be a President for those people too. But, he's not a Republican; he's one of us far more than one of them.

    Furthermore, this is not an election between two moderate clones. The Republicans have doubled-down on their disproven theories. They have embraced their crazy fringe and they are running with it. Sitting on our hands this time (or casting some sort of protest vote) won't cut it this time out. This is a choice between sanity and delusion and between responsibility and another round of wholesale rape of the public treasury. If delusion and hucksterism win, it won't be for lack of effort on my part.

  • Lethar on September 10, 2012 12:07 PM:

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  • smartalek on September 10, 2012 2:31 PM:

    @Peter C:
    I'm reasonably confident that anon at 10:39 was engaging in sarcasm.
    But it's scary how many otherwise intelligent-seeming voices there are out there taking exactly the position that anon is only feigning.
    If -- God forbid -- we lose this time, I wonder how much will be the fault of the perfidy of Publican disenfranchisement efforts, how much the impact of the corporate media's collusion with Lyin' Ryan and Mendacious Mitt's campaign of pure deceit... and how much some of us will have done it to ourselves, with another too-pure-to-accept-reality electoral suicide?
    I'd like to believe that OUR voters -- unlike theirs -- have the ability to learn from experience.

  • Doug on September 10, 2012 2:52 PM:

    "I have a gut feeling that people don't like being lied to." Peter C @ 10:27 AM

    THAT is what will cost R/R and their fellow fabricators the election. People don't like to be lied to, they resent being lied to, they remember who lies and they won't "help" those who lie to them. Nor do they vote for them, either by not voting at all or by voting for the other person.
    I'll settle for them not voting at all...

    I also am assuming that "Anonymous @ 10:39 AM" is being snarky. I haven't been there in over a year because of the commenters. The posts usually aren't too bad, although as they're supposedly written someone who knows how politics operates, I find them to be a little on the "I want my pony!" side. As for the commenters?
    To quote Nero Wolf: "Pfui!"

  • emjayay on September 10, 2012 7:23 PM:

    I'm sorry Peter C. That was supposed to be from emjayay not Anonymous. I almost put a *SNARK* label at the end. I thought it was obvious, but I guess apparently a little too deadpanish.

    And yes, smartalec, everything I said about AmericaBlog is true. I periodically explain there that this is not a Parliamentary system where voting for the Green party or whatever can end up actually meaning something. Lack of perfection in presidential candidates in our Constitutional system is not a reason to not vote, or vote for Ralph Nader or something. It was a bit shocking to read a regular commenter there calling me an "Obamabot" right there on my laptop screen. My inner middle schooler freaked out a bit. Well at least it isn't a site with my real name and a little photo of me. (On avater-friendly blogs I use a puppy pic.)

    Even worse - and I've seen it there and have heard it ever since Barry Goldwater ran (!) - electing someone so awful that Americans will see how messed up Republicans are and never vote for them again is not a world-of- reality solution. Case in point: one of the top few, maybe number one worst president ever was elected and reelected rather recently, and people seem to still vote for Republicans. I'm talking about that guy they all loved, but are now apparently suffering from party-wide amnesia about.

  • emjayay on September 10, 2012 11:21 PM:

    Robert from upstate and Peter C: I'm once again sorry I unintentionally misled you with the Anonymous comment. I totally agree with every thing you both said.

    I really appreciate the level of interesting and intelligent discourse here at WM, as opposed to, for some reason, some other not that dissimmilar sites. Well, one.

  • Redminkidomia on November 01, 2012 5:24 AM:

  • Redminkidomia on November 01, 2012 9:20 AM: