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The First Debate: Mitt Romney's Five Biggest Lies

The truth behind that $5 trillion tax cut, pre-existing conditions and more

President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney at the first Presidential Debate.
SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages
October 4, 2012 9:32 AM ET

Mitt Romney turned in a polished performance in last night's presidential debate – and revealed himself to be an accomplished and unapologetic liar. In an evening where he sought to slice and dice the president with statistics, Romney baldly misrepresented his own policy prescriptions, made up numbers to fit his attacks and buried clear contrasts with the president under a heaping pile of horseshit.

Here are mendacious Mitt's five most outrageous statements:

1. "I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut." Romney flatly lied about the cost of his proposal to cut income-tax rates across the board by another 20 percent (undercutting even the low rates of the Bush tax cuts). Independent economists at the Tax Policy Center have shown that the price tag for those cuts is $360 billion in the first year, a cost that extrapolates to $5 trillion over a decade.

2. "I will not reduce the taxes paid by high-income Americans." Romney has claimed that he will pay for his tax cuts by closing a variety of loopholes and deductions. The factual problem? Romney hasn't named a single loophole he's willing to close; worse, there's no way to offset $5 trillion in tax cuts even if you get rid of the entire universe of deductions for the wealthy that Romney has not put off the table (like the carried interest loophole or the 15 percent capital gains rate.) The Tax Policy Center report concludes that Romney's proposal would create a "net tax cut for high-income tax payers and a net tax increase for lower- and or middle-income taxpayers." Moreover, some of Romney's tax cuts are micro-targeted at American dynasties, particularly his proposal to eliminate the estate tax, which would reduce his own sons' tax burden by tens of millions of dollars.

3. "We've got 23 million people out of work or [who have] stopped looking for work in this country." Romney is lying for effect. The nation's crisis of joblessness is bad, but not 23 million bad. The official figure is 12.5 million unemployed. An additional 2.6 million Americans have stopped looking for jobs. How does Romney gin up his eye-popping 23 million figure? He counts more than 8 million wage earners who hold part-time jobs as also being "out of work."

4. Obamacare "puts in place an unelected board that's going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have." Romney is reviving Sarah Palin's old death panels lie here. Obamacare does establish an Independent Payment Advisory Board to help constrain the growth of Medicare spending. The body has no authority to dictate the practices of the private insurance marketplace. And the law also makes explicit that this body is banned from rationing care or limiting medical benefits to seniors.

5. "Pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan." In the biggest whopper of the night, Romney suggested that his health care proposal would guarantee coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions. This is just not true. Under Romney, if you have a pre-existing condition and have been unable to obtain insurance coverage or if you have had to drop coverage for more than 90 days because you lost your job or couldn't afford the premiums, you would be shit out of luck. Insurance companies could continue to discriminate and deny you coverage, as even Romney's top adviser conceded after the debate was over.

Below, RS' Tim Dickinson talks about Mitt Romney's debate lies on Current TV's Viewpoint, hosted by Eliot Spitzer:

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