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“I don’t know whether to laugh or cry”: President Clinton fact-checks the GOP

In his speech nominating President Obama for re-election, President Bill Clinton explained the clear choice Americans face in this election: Between the “winner-take-all, you’re on your own” philosophy endorsed by Mitt Romney, and the “we’re all in this together” philosophy President Obama knows we need to move America forward.

But President Clinton also took the time to break down some of Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan’s biggest falsehoods, one by one:

  1. Medicare


    Both Governor Romney and Congressman Ryan attacked the President for allegedly robbing Medicare of $716 billion … But it’s not true. Look, here’s what really happened, you be the judge, here’s what really happened: There were no cuts to benefits at all. None. What the President did was to save money by taking the recommendations of a commission of professionals to cut unwarranted subsidies to providers and insurance companies that were not making people healthier and were not necessary to get the providers to provide the service. And instead of raiding Medicare, he used the savings to close the doughnut hole in the Medicare drug program, and … to add eight years to the life of the Medicare Trust Fund so it is solvent until 2024. So, President Obama and the Democrats didn’t weaken Medicare, they strengthened Medicare.

    Now, when Congressman Ryan looked into that TV camera and attacked President Obama’s Medicare savings as “the biggest, coldest power play,” I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. Because that $716 billion is exactly, to the dollar, the same amount of Medicare savings that he had in his own budget. You got to get one thing, it takes some brass to attack a guy for doing what you did.

  2. Welfare


    Here’s what happened ... When some Republican Governors asked if they could have waivers to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, the Obama administration listened—because we all know it’s hard for even people with good work histories to get jobs today. So moving folks from welfare to work is a real challenge. And the administration agreed to give waivers to those governors and others only if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20% and they could keep the waivers only if they did increase employment. Now did I make myself clear? The requirement was for more work, not less.

    This is personal to me. We’ve moved millions of people off welfare. It was one of the reasons that, in the eight years that I was president, we had 100 times as many people move out of poverty into the middle class than happened under previous 12 years. One hundred times as many. It’s a big deal. But I am telling you, the claim that President Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not true. But they keep on running ads on claiming it. You want to know why? Their campaign pollster said, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.” Now, finally I can say, that is true. I couldn’t have said it better myself. And I hope you and every American within the sound of my voice remembers it every time they see one of those ads.

  3. Romney and Ryan’s debt proposals


    The Romney plan fails the first test of fiscal responsibility—the numbers just don’t add up. I mean, consider this: What would you do if you had this problem? Somebody says, “Oh we got a big debt problem, we got to reduce the debt.” So what’s the first thing you say we’re going to do? “Well to reduce the debt, we’re going to have another $5 trillion in tax cuts, heavily weighted to upper income people—so we’ll make the debt hole bigger before we get out of it.” Now, when you say, “What are you going to do about this $5 trillion you just added on?” They say, “Oh we’ll make it up by eliminating loopholes in the tax code.” So then you ask, “Which loopholes and how much?”You know what they say? “See me about that after the election.” I’m not making it up, that’s their position. See me about that after the election …

    If they stay with this $5 trillion tax cut plan in a debt reduction plan, the arithmetic tells us, no matter what they say, one of three things is about to happen. One, assuming they try to do what they say they’ll do … they’ll have to eliminate so many deductions, like the ones for home mortgages and charitable giving, that middle-class families will see their tax bills go up an average of $2,000, while anybody who makes $3 million or more will see their tax bill go down $250,000.

    Or, two, they’ll have to cut so much spending that they’ll obliterate the budget for the national parks, for ensuring clean air, clean water, safe food, safe air travel. They’ll cut way back on Pell Grants, college loans, early childhood education, child nutrition programs, all the programs that help to empower middle-class families and help poor kids. Oh, they’ll cut back on investments in roads and bridges and science and technology and biomedical research. That’s what they’ll do. They’ll hurt the middle class and the poor and put the future on hold to give tax cuts to upper-income people who’ve been getting it all along.

    Or, three, in spite of all the rhetoric, they’ll just do what they’ve been doing for more than 30 years. They’ll go and cut the taxes way more than they cut spending, especially with that big defense increase, and they’ll just explode the debt and weaken the economy, and they’ll destroy the federal government’s ability to help you by letting interest gobble up all your tax payments … It’s arithmetic. We simply cannot afford to give the reins of government to someone who will double-down on trickle-down.

  4. Job Creation


    In the last 29 months, our economy has produced about 4.5 million private sector jobs. We could’ve done better, but last year, the Republicans blocked the President’s jobs plan costing the economy more than a million new jobs … During this period, more than 500,000 manufacturing jobs have been created under President Obama—that’s the first time manufacturing jobs have increased since the 1990s.

    And I’ll tell you something else, the auto industry restructuring worked. It saved more than a million jobs, and not just at GM, Chrysler and their dealerships, but in auto parts manufacturing all over the country … There are now 250,000 more people working in the auto industry than on the day the companies were restructured. Now we all know Governor Romney opposed the plan to save GM and Chrysler. So here’s another jobs score—are you listening in Michigan, and Ohio, and across the country? Here’s another jobs score: Obama: 250,000. Romney: Zero.

As President Clinton noted in his speech, the Romney campaign has routinely launched false attacks with a blatant disregard for the truth, even going so far as to say, “We’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan will no doubt continue to twist the truth in an effort to distort President Obama’s record. But voters deserve to get the facts—and that’s what President Clinton delivered in his speech.

Join the Truth Team to help us—and President Clinton—cut through the lies and illuminate the choice in this election.