Friday, August 31, 2012

Don't confuse us with the facts, our minds are made up

Buzz and I have been watching the GOP convention in Tampa, and we've been following the campaign ads.  It appears that the facts are not going to get in the way of the Romney-Ryan campaign.

"We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers," Romney pollster Neil Newhouse said recently at a panel organized by ABC News.

We built it

Republicans were so excited when Obama explained that businesses in the United States used the government, by the way of infrastructure, public schools, tax policy, government grants, and the like, to create and build their businesses.  When Obama said, "You didn't build that," Republicans pounced.  They made the "you didn't build that" a cornerstone of their campaign. (See Obama "You didn't build that" speech in context.

All of a sudden, Obama's words became an attack on capitalism.  Instead of accepting the truism of Obama's words for what they were, Republicans said Obama was saying the government built businesses.

Mitt Romney and Republican Super PACs produced and aired ads with irate and angry business people explaining how they built their small businesses on their own, without the help of the damn government.  The hypocrisy of their statements became readily apparent.

The star of one of the early ads admitted that he owed a lot of his success to a public school teacher who inspired him, the government created internet, and the roads and highways built by the government.  Upon further reflection and scrutiny, other "self-made" businessmen from the slew of  the  "We Built It" commercials, it became apparent that many of this "self-made" business owners relied heavily on favorable tax policy, government contracts, government loans, and our government built infrastructure.

Of course, when asked for further clarification, many Republicans said, "well that stuff was paid for by our taxes."  Well, duh, that's obvious.  Taxes pay for government projects and people pay taxes.  That argument falls flat when it comes to government policy.

Republicans have lashed out at infrastructure spending for years.  The Republicans of today are the first in line to oppose any and all government spending, excepting defense spending, and throughout the past 75 years, Republicans have generally opposed all public works projects and any spending on things like public education.

Welfare Queens 

The other big lie being propagated by the GOP is that President Obama has gutted the welfare work requirement. Romney has put out a multimillion dollar ad campaign to hammer this allegation home. Like the Ronald Reagan "welfare queen" story, to borrow from REO Speedwagon, "talk is cheap when the story is good."

It is quite ironic that at a convention where keynote speaker and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said Republicans don't rely on polls to stake out their positions and policy, that the Romney-Ryan people are doing just that.

The "Obama gutted the work requirement for welfare" line polled very well with focus groups, particularly with White working class voters.  The fact that Obama did not waive the work requirement is irrelevant to the GOP argument.  After all, talk is cheap when the story is good.

The well-respected Annenberg Public Policy Center, a non-partisan that fact checks political claims, said this about the Romney ad.

A Mitt Romney TV ad claims the Obama administration has adopted “a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.” The plan does neither of those things.
  • Work requirements are not simply being “dropped.” States may now change the requirements — revising, adding or eliminating them — as part of a federally approved state-specific plan to increase job placement.
  • And it won’t “gut” the 1996 law to ease the requirement. Benefits still won’t be paid beyond an allotted time, whether the recipient is working or not.
Annenberg is not the only fact checking group that has determined Romney's welfare charges to be absolutely false, but none of this has stopped Romney from pushing his fictitious claim.

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