Political Animal


October 04, 2012 10:31 AM One Percent Honesty

By Ed Kilgore

Krugman’s right: in the grand scale of things, Romney’s repetition last night of the lie that his “health care plan” takes care of people with pre-existing conditions was more egregious than anything else he said (with the possible exception of his expressed determination to sit down with Democrats and work out compromises, which would lead Republicans to seek his impeachment if he actually pursued it).

But Romney on pre-existing conditions is kind of like Romney on universal access to health care. As he said recently, it’s technically true most Americans can get treatment for acute conditions in hospital emergency rooms. If that’s your idea of “health care,” then he’s right. Similarly, people with pre-existing conditions who have insurance and don’t let it lapse (a qualifier Romney did not bother to mention last night, though Obama did) have the right under current law to try to buy a crappy HIPAA policy at exorbitant costs, assuming they can afford it.

Mitt’s advisors, who remain a very important resource in telling us what Mitt actually means when he tells lies about his policy proposals, also suggested that Mitt’s proud of Massachusetts’ ban on pre-existing condition exclusions, and thinks other states should do otherwise. Trouble is, Mitt’s also proposing interstate health insurance sales, which would almost certainly force consumers everywhere to buy policies from states with little or no regulation of pre-existing condition exclusions or anything else (a point Obama, to his great credit, actually tried to make, though very murkily). Repealing Obamacare and then strongly encouraging states to cut Medicaid benefits and eligibility provides the uninsured or uninsurable a final kick to the curb, in case anyone wants to know what Romney really thinks of their plight. He can’t hide behind tiny shreds of truth forever.

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.


  • martin on October 04, 2012 10:37 AM:

    He can’t hide behind tiny shreds of truth forever.

    He doesn't have to. Only until November.

  • stormskies on October 04, 2012 10:50 AM:

    If America votes for this pathological liar called buffoon Romney base on last night's 'performance' then this country is not only in cataclysmic trouble, but even more stupid than any of us have suspected given how stupid it has seemed so far.

  • Bob M on October 04, 2012 11:00 AM:

    Obama needed to call him out. He was off from the beginning, like he was thinking of other things. Given the problems in the world, that is understandable. :-)

  • c u n d gulag on October 04, 2012 11:02 AM:

    Ok, so Mitt was 1% honest.

    But it would have been nice to see Obama give at least a 47% effort!

  • Anonymous on October 04, 2012 11:12 AM:

    What kind of man can look 89 million Americans in the eye and then lie through his fucking teeth?

    This one:

    "Number one, pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan."- Mitt Romney 10/03/2012

  • james on October 04, 2012 11:14 AM:

    Romney's primary point in the health care portion was that health care reform should be done by state governments, not by the federal government. "Federal takeover," while it sounds like and be played as "Washington is deciding who your doctor is," really means the federal government is superceding the state governments. He has a point. Insurance, including health insurance, has historically been regulated primarily by the states.

    But even after Massachusetts provided a model, no state followed with significant reform. Coverage varies from state-to-state and portability is not guaranteed, a factor to consider with a mobile workforce.

    While it always seemed to me that the state that implemented a universal single-payer system would have a competitive advantage in economic development, apparently no governor or legislature could see that.

    Mr. Obama should make this point: the states weren't doing it, the crisis was worsening, and when we face a national crisis of this sort, it is appropriate for the federal government to step in.

  • Ron Byers on October 04, 2012 11:19 AM:

    For me it is important for Americans to debate the details and to understand what Mitt is really proposing. This isn't style and horserace. Is the MSM up to this conversation? Romney is betting heavily that the answer is "no." I am not so sure that isn't a safe bet.

  • Joe Friday on October 04, 2012 11:20 AM:

    I thought it was rather wise not to bring up the 47% or Bain, as I'm quite sure Willard had a well-prepared weasely excuse of a lie for both. The ads that the Obama campaign are airing in the battleground states about the 47% and Bain are DEVASTATING, and they will remain that way.

  • John B. on October 04, 2012 11:23 AM:

    With Foot-in-Mouth Biden up next for the debates, and viewership of the two remaining debates bound to be much lower, Obama needs a game-changer or he is going to lose the media and therefore the election.

    In a comment to an earlier article I mentioned that he still can come back from his widely-acknowledged poor performance last night. But he will need a seismic shift in the media chatter -- or an "October surprise" as the media likes to call it.

    What could that be? Simple.

    Someone needs to publicly release Romney's taxes for the years 2009 and earlier. They will show he cheated on his taxes for years by deliberately failing to report income from overseas accounts.

    The best timing? After Biden gets creamed and before the second presidential debate.

  • Hedda Peraz on October 04, 2012 11:32 AM:

    Romney is like one of those "Concept Cars" that Detroit rolls out every year at the auto show. Lots of glitz and wow, but no drive train.

    "No, sorry, the hood is welded shut- but trust me, folks, she's got what it takes!"

  • millsapian87 on October 04, 2012 11:35 AM:

    I was frustrated by Obama's performance on two fronts: I wanted him to say that Medicare exists precisely because, when people get to be in their 60s, they absolutely cannot get or afford private insurance, due to the preexisting condition clause and other factors. Pushing seniors out into a voucher system where they have to get private insurance is pretty much taking a huge step backward and would result in fewer seniors having health coverage. Frankly, I believe there shouldn't be a profit motive with regard to health care, period.

    Secondly, the GOP have hated SS/Medicare/Medicaid since their inception, and would kill those programs today if they thought they could. Any GOP ideas for "reform" of these programs are really ideas for their eventual destruction. Why can't that be said?

    Okay, three fronts: Obama didn't say often enough that our current situation re: the deficit and debt are directly related to the Bush tax cuts, our two Excellent Overseas Adventures, and the financial shenanigans of our Wall Street overlords. We've had ten years of Bush tax cuts and we have a shitty economy, while during the Clinton administration we had higher tax rates, a robust economy AND a balanced federal budget for two years.

  • Wapiti on October 04, 2012 11:51 AM:

    @Joe Friday - I think that's a good point about 47% and Bain. If Obama brought them up, Romney could counter with something unpredictable. But those issues are working now. They will have some continuing effect because they haven't been countered.

  • Quaker in a Basement on October 04, 2012 12:20 PM:

    "...his expressed determination to sit down with Democrats and work out compromises...

    "You'll get nothing and like it!" is not a compromise.

  • yellowdog on October 04, 2012 1:19 PM:

    Benen summed things up nicely: "Delivering lines well is a nice quality, but as the dust settles, it's worth pausing to reflect on whether those lines were true and reflect reality in any meaningful way. Indeed, it seems to me Romney thrived in large part because he abandoned the pretense of honesty. And as it turns out, winning a debate is surprisingly easy when a candidate decides he can say anything and expect to get away with it. Romney told viewers his proposed $5 trillion tax cut isn't really his proposed $5 trillion tax cut. He suggested he could eliminate a $1 trillion deficit by going after Big Bird. He said his non-existent health care plan protects those with pre-existing conditions when in reality the exact opposite is true. He cited trumped up "studies" from far-right ideologues as if they're legitimate, assuming the public won't know the difference. He said a deficit that's shrunk has actually "doubled." And when Romney wasn't repeating falsehoods, he was furiously shaking an Etch A Sketch, rolling out yet another version of himself."

  • RaflW on October 04, 2012 2:54 PM:

    Romney told the American people that he’d cover pre-existing conditions. We know his 396 word web site ‘plan’ has an asterisk the size of several large states (89 million people had health insurance lapses in the aughts, so would fall thru the gaping crevasse in Mitt’s ‘plan’).

    Can Romney promise that kinds of health care security to people on TeeVee and then have his campaign walk it back shortly after, and not have it matter electorally? Sure K-thug brings it up, but he's shrill.

    Seriously. Lack of health care terrifies most Americans. It does me. My partner had to fight like a dog for policy issuance because he had acid reflux and plantar fasciitis as his denial reasons. That was it.

    Good god, if you can be denied an insurance policy over two minor, clearly not life-threatening conditions, then Mitt’s claim that the free market can solve the insurance crisis is utter bunk.

    And his 'plan' ignores the fact that millions of people get laid off, can't afford COBRA, have coverage lapse, and are thus f*** if they ever want a private policy.

    He's playing life and death games with ordinary people's lives by baldly lying on TV and then having his campaign correct the record to a few dozen reporters.