WASHINGTON -- In the early hours of May 1, D.C. bartender Mike Boone came to the aid of a young woman who was being mugged.
Boone had offered to walk her home from the bar, Trusty's on Capitol Hill, since the immediate neighborhood is not known for having the safest streets at night. A man jumped from behind some bushes and grabbed the woman's purse. Boone also grabbed it, and the two men started fighting.
"We were punching each other pretty hard," Boone recalled. It wasn't until blood gushed from his body and the woman screamed that the bartender realized what had really happened.
"He was punching me with a knife," Boone said.
Boone passed out on the sidewalk. He woke up the next day in a hospital bed, recovering from eight stab wounds and a collapsed lung.
Like nearly 50 million other Americans, Boone lacked health insurance. A pre-existing condition -- in his case, a broken back he suffered in 1993 -- prevented him from obtaining affordable coverage. President Barack Obama's health care law prohibits insurance companies from discriminating against people with pre-existing conditions, but that reform doesn't go into effect for adults until 2014.
Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal the health care law entirely if he's elected. In America, Romney has said, we don't let people die in the street simply because they lack health insurance: Hospitals are there to care for the uninsured.
"We don't have a setting across this country where if you don't have insurance, we just say to you, 'Tough luck, you're going to die when you have your heart attack,'" Romney said in an interview with The Columbus Dispatch on Oct. 11. "No, you go to the hospital, you get treated, you get care, and it's paid for, either by charity, the government or by the hospital."
Indeed, the health care system did not let Boone bleed to death on the sidewalk. But it did bury him in life-altering debt. After four days in the hospital and two surgeries, the 39-year-old -- hailed as a hero on Capitol Hill and beyond for his actions -- is staring at $60,000 in medical bills so far. And they haven't stopped rolling in.
Well-wishers, moved by media reports of his story, have donated $17,000 to help Boone cover his expenses, and he's hoping a public fund for crime victims could defray as much as $25,000 more. But Boone, who said he expects to earn only about $15,000 this year, figures he'll still be looking at nearly $20,000 in debt, all for risking his life for a fellow human being.
His story is one that plays out with troubling regularity in the bar-and-restaurant business, where a high quotient of workers go without health coverage. Post-tragedy fundraisers are common in the industry. The events serve as vivid examples of the private sector's safety net in action.
These fundraisers can defray some of the costs of emergency care, as they have done for Boone, but often they don't provide nearly enough. Paying for health care isn't as efficient or just as Romney suggests. Instead, much of the cost is borne by health care providers and insurers and, ultimately, the insured. We all pay.
"At first, I was like, man, this is really great, this could take care of it," Boone said of the charity he has received. "And then the big bills started coming."
A FORM OF SOCIALISM
Douglas Zehner is the senior vice president and chief financial officer at MedStar Washington Hospital Center in northwest Washington, where Boone was treated. He said Medstar gave $22.1 million worth of care to uninsured or underinsured patients and forgave $85.1 million in debt last year. But that charity isn't free. The only way the hospital can recoup its losses, Zehner said, is by negotiating with private insurance providers for higher prices, a process known as "cost-shifting."
"I have to price my services with insurance carriers because that’s the only group I'm even in the room talking to about how much they're going to pay me for my services," Zehner said. "So the way the cost-shifting works is you basically back into how much [money] you need to run that service [for all patients] and apply it to the expected number of people that are coming in that have insurance to get that service."
The fewer people who have insurance, the greater the burden on those who do have coverage. In order to cover the costs of treating the uninsured, premiums go up. The American Hospital Association estimated that U.S. hospitals performed $39.3 billion worth of uncompensated care in 2010, the most recent year for which numbers are available. That's 5.8 percent of total expenses.
This is a problem that Obama's health care law seeks to address and one that Romney himself has acknowledged in the past, before he began pursuing the Republican presidential nomination.
"Look, it doesn't make a lot of sense for us to have millions and millions of people who have no health insurance and yet who can go to the emergency room and get entirely free care for which they have no responsibility, particularly if they are people who have sufficient means to pay their own way," he said in 2010.
In 2007, he used even starker language: "When [uninsured people] show up at the hospital, they get care. They get free care paid for by you and me. If that's not a form of socialism, I don't know what is."
Boone, who considers himself relatively apolitical, said he "absolutely" looks forward to the full implementation of Obamacare. "I'm so excited that this is happening," he said.
Given his pre-existing condition, Boone said, the cost of purchasing individual health insurance was astronomical. If an insurer even made him an offer, he said, he was seeing quotes of $1,000 per month -- far beyond what he could afford. Under Obamacare, Boone should be able to find an affordable plan on the new health care "exchanges" being established in 2014.
It's not a done deal, however. Although it's unlikely that Congress will have the Republican majorities required to approve a full repeal, a Romney presidency would have ways to hobble the law's implementation, jeopardizing coverage for people like Boone.
Romney has provided few details about what he would put in place of Obamacare, other than suggesting during one debate that he would protect people with pre-existing conditions from losing health insurance. His plan would do nothing for the uninsured. But Romney has repeated his line that hospitals will be there to treat those people.
"Well, we do provide care for people who don't have insurance," he said in an interview with "60 Minutes" in September. "If someone has a heart attack, they don't sit in their apartment and die. We pick them up in an ambulance and take them to the hospital and give them care."
Romney has not explained his contradictory statements about the value of giving emergency room care to the uninsured, and his campaign did not respond to a request for additional information.
But it turns out emergency room care for the uninsured is a less-than-ideal form of socialism.
The way that health care plays out in the restaurant industry shows the limits of charity in defraying the cost of hospital visits.
According to the National Restaurant Association, the industry employs nearly 10 percent of the U.S. workforce and has outperformed the broader economy during the past decade. While precise data on health insurance for service industry workers are hard to come by, surveys by the Restaurant Opportunities Center, an advocacy group for restaurant workers, have found that 90 percent of workers don't receive health coverage through their employer.
"It's absolutely the industry standard" for bars not to cover their employees, said Mark Menard, who co-owns Trusty's, where Boone works, and three other Washington bars.
Menard said it would be prohibitively expensive to insure all of his workers, and he estimated that one-third to one-half of his employees buy their own insurance on the individual market.
Bar patrons in Washington and other cities have repeatedly come out in support of industry employees who have been in car crashes or attacked after closing and don't have adequate health coverage. Because these employees often work without the benefit of sick leave or workers' compensation, they suffer lost wages on top of crushing medical debt.
On Oct. 14, for instance, Penn Social, a downtown D.C. bar, held a fundraiser for two uninsured staffers who were horrifically injured when a drunk driver in a Jeep Cherokee smashed into their Honda Civic while they were waiting at a red light. The collision was so severe that the Civic's gas tank ruptured, causing a fire.
"The men in the Civic remain hospitalized with myriad internal injuries and burns," The Washington Post reported. "The driver, from Virginia, suffered bleeding from the brain, broken ribs, a punctured lung, damage to his spleen and kidneys, and third-degree burns over 17 percent of his body. His passenger, a cousin, has third-degree burns over nearly 40 percent of his body."
Friends of the two men have started a recovery fund.
Employees and patrons of the Argonaut bar in Washington hosted a fundraiser in 2006 for a bartender who was shot in the head after leaving work. The bartender survived but lost an eye.
Boone's medical bills have wiped out his personal savings. He's already receiving letters from collection agencies, and he said his credit has been ruined.
"Buying a sailboat -- that was the plan," Boone said recently from behind the bar, holding up the tip jar he once considered his boat fund. "I was ready to go buy the sailboat. Then I got stabbed."
Now he's hoping to buy a boat and live in it, he said, "so I can rent a slip and have cheaper rent."
He missed nearly three months of work before returning to his job near the end of July. Along with that tip jar, he now has letters of support and a stack of hospital bills at the bar.
Given that he'd risked his life to help a patron, Boone was a particularly good candidate for a community fundraiser. Days after he left the hospital, a charity night at Trusty's and a PayPal account pulled in $17,000 to go toward his medical bills. A line stretched down the block, as people who'd never been to the bar before showed up to meet him.
It was a moving show of support, and Boone said he found himself stepping outside throughout the night to smoke and calm himself. He tried to enjoy it all, but he'd rather not have to rely on the generosity of others to make ends meet.
"It sucked," he said. "I cried."
The charitable contributions helped cover his rent and food while he missed work, Boone said. He's still waiting to find out exactly how much he owes the hospital. He doesn't know whether he arrived at the emergency room by ambulance or helicopter. He figures the bill will tell him.
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My Name Is...
At a GOP presidential debate last November, Romney followed CNN host Wolf Blitzer's lead, giving his own attempt at an introduction. "I'm Mitt Romney -- and yes Wolf, that's also my first name," the former governor offered. <em>(Video at 1:22 mark)</em> That is entirely, completely, 100 percent, not true. Romney's first name is Willard. Willard Mitt Romney: Male, 65 years old, married, white, businessman-turned-governor-turned-potential-next president of the United States of America. His father, George Romney, a <a href="http://www.vice.com/vice-news/the-mexican-mormon-war-trailer">Mexican-born</a> governor and onetime presidential candidate, named him after J. Willard Marriott, of Marriott hotel fame. His middle name, "Mitt," was apparently an homage to his father's cousin, Milton "Mitt" Romney. So, what Romney really should have said was, "I'm Mitt Romney -- and yes Wolf, that was the nickname of my first cousin once removed."
Obama Made Things Worse -- On Purpose
In announcing his candidacy back in 2011, Romney gave birth to an untruth that has become a focal point of his campaign. "Barack Obama has failed America. When he took office, the economy was in recession. He made it worse," Romney declared. He's since broadened that claim in a number of ways, the falsest of them perhaps <a href="http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entry/mitt-romney-obama-slowed-recovery-on-purpose" target="_hplink">his suggestion</a> that Obama "knowingly slowed down our recovery" in order to create a climate that would allow for the passage of health care reform. None of this is true. If the point Romney had tried to make was that the economy is still weak, he would have been correct. Instead, he made a false statement in claiming that Obama had worsened the recession. Key economic indicators in areas such as the <a href="http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=z1ebjpgk2654c1_&met_y=unemployment_rate&idim=country:US&fdim_y=seasonality:S&dl=en&hl=en&q=unemployment+rate+chart" target="_hplink">unemployment rate</a>, <a href="http://www.google.com/publicdata/explore?ds=d5bncppjof8f9_&met_y=ny_gdp_mktp_kd_zg&idim=country:USA&dl=en&hl=en&q=gross+domestic+product+growth+rate" target="_hplink">GDP growth</a> and the <a href="https://www.google.com/finance?client=ob&q=INDEXDJX:DJI" target="_hplink">stock market</a> suggest that the economy has begun to climb out of recession, though more slowly than anyone could have hoped. In fact, when Romney was pressed on these facts in the days following his announcement, he <a href="http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2011/07/01/259102/romney-flip-flops-obama-economy-worse/" target="_hplink">ran from his earlier statement</a>, saying that he "didn't say things are worse." The second part of Romney's deceit comes from his twisted interpretation of <em>The Escape Artists</em>, a book by Noam Scheiber. The magnitude of Romney's untruth regarding Obama's supposed willful undermining of economic recovery is actually quite vast, but here's how New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/06/romney-just-making-stuff-up-now.html" target="_hplink">condensed the key takeaway</a>: <blockquote>First, and most importantly, at no point did anybody in the Obama administration ever believe that passing the Affordable Care Act would "slow down the recovery." Nothing close to that is ever described. Romney presents the book as revealing that Obama believed health-care reform, through its "big gummint" regulations, would harm the recovery, but cackling that he wanted to pass it out of some belief that Americans wouldn't notice mass economic suffering. This bears no relationship to anything the book says.</blockquote> <a href="http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/06/romney-just-making-stuff-up-now.html" target="_hplink">Read the rest from Chait for more on Romney's whopper</a>.
Mitt's Tax Plan
"I indicated as I announced my tax plan that the key principles included the following. First, that high-income people would continue to pay the same share of the tax burden that they do today. And second, that there would be a reduction in taxes paid by middle-income taxpayer," Romney said in an <a href="http://finance.fortune.cnn.com/2012/08/15/mitt-romney-interview/" target="_hplink">interview with Fortune Magazine</a>, responding to a criticism of his plan by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. "We are not going reduce the share of taxes paid by high-income individuals, and we're certainly not going to increase the taxes paid by middle-income taxpayers." Romney and his campaign have since made repeated attempts to reinforce their claim that the tax plan will lower the burden on all Americans and still remain deficit neutral, all by eliminating loopholes -- which they've refuse to specify. Well, that sounds nice, but it isn't true. It can't be, and Romney keeps saying it. The math just isn't on his side. At the bare minimum, Romney has said he'd reduce income tax rates by 20 percent, repeal the estate tax and eliminate the alternative minimum tax. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/23/mitt-romney-tax-deductions_n_1824410.html" target="_hplink">Without the details</a> about which tax loopholes and deductions he'd eliminate to pay for it, the Tax Policy Center and a number of <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/romney-tax-plan-middle-class_n_1874113.html">other analysts</a> <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/16/mitt-romney-tax-policy-center_n_1792064.html" target="_hplink">have maintained that Romney's blueprint</a> would actually provide a windfall for the richest Americans, while <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/16/mitt-romney-tax-plan-math_n_1972261.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012">shifting some of the burden</a> onto the middle class. From what Romney is saying, there's no way his tax plan would work. Simply saying that it would, without providing any additional detail to back it up, hasn't changed any expert's mind. But that hasn't stopped Romney from continuing to insist that the math makes sense <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/08/mitt-romney-liar-obama-campaign_n_1949732.html?utm_hp_ref=politics">depending on which budget baseline</a> and reports you look at. It turns out the "six studies" Romney and Paul Ryan have turned to for support on their plan, <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/10/03/fact-check-the-tax-fight/">don't actually</a> back them up, at least <a href="http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-10-12/the-final-word-on-mitt-romney-s-tax-plan.html">not in the way</a> they claim.
Obamacare, Romneycare And Mandates
This has always been one of Romney's most glaring vulnerabilities. He's claimed that he didn't support an individual mandate on health insurance and insisted that he never said his plan for Massachusetts' health care reform should be used as a national model. He's also attempted to portray Obamacare as a law that will rob Americans of choice when it comes to choosing their health insurance, and claimed inaccurately at the second presidential debate that Obamacare has increased insurance premiums by $2,500 a year. This is absolutely false. Romney was once an unapologetic supporter of the individual mandate, and <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B7PG4j2K0dA" target="_hplink">quite</a> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JKN1RC2j92w" target="_hplink">publicly</a> <a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTByvLtYIYA" target="_hplink">in fact</a>, at least until his most recent foray into presidential politics. Romney has also attempted to destroy the notion that he believed the Massachusetts model should be replicated nationally. Of course, this becomes difficult when numerous <a href="http://www.usatoday.com/printedition/news/20090730/column30_st.art.htm" target="_hplink">op-eds</a> and <a href="http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/06/27/video-romney-and-the-mandate/" target="_hplink">interviews</a> emerge showing a Romney who encouraged health care reformers to adopt the individual mandate, which Obamacare has since done, in order to craft a system that can offer affordable health care to a greater number of Americans. Romney also appears to have repeatedly and deliberately misled about details of Obamacare to portray it as a plan that eliminates health insurance choice by design. The Affordable Care Act, implemented through state-regulated exchanges, is designed to give consumers options about which private plans they want for coverage. As The Huffington Post's Jeffrey Young <a href="http://huff.to/TacVOO">points out</a>, Romney's math on the rising costs of health care insurance is wrong. The total average increase of premiums from 2009 through 2012 has been $2,370 -- not the $2,500 a year stated by Romney. The average hike in the employee's share comes to $801 over that period. Health insurance premiums <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/11/health-care-costs-at-work_n_1872027.html">almost doubled from 2002 to 2012</a> as the cost of health care continues to rise faster than the economy has grown, but <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/health-care-reform-report_n_1590672.html">has slowed in recent years</a>. Read more from Young's report <a href="http://huff.to/TacVOO">here</a>.
'Binders Full Of Women'
Defending his credentials on women's issues during the second presidential debate, Romney claimed that he'd sought out female candidates to fill his cabinet as governor of Massachusetts. Romney said that, at his direction, a women's group put together "binders full of women" who were qualified for various positions. Romney then boasted about how many of them he'd gone on to hire. Romney's story is a work of fiction. As The Huffington Post's Laura Bassett <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/17/romney-binders-full-of-women_n_1972425.html" target="_hplink">reports</a>, the situation played out differently: <blockquote>In fact, Romney did not direct women's groups to bring him female candidates, <a href="http://blog.thephoenix.com/BLOGS/talkingpolitics/archive/2012/10/16/mind-the-binder.aspx" target="_hplink">Boston Pheonix reporter David Bernstein points out</a>. A non-partisan collaboration of women’s groups called <a href="http://www.massgap.org/about.htm" target="_hplink">Massachusetts Government Appointments Project (MassGAP)</a> was responsible for the effort in 2002, when the group's leaders realized that women held only 30 percent of the top appointed positions in the state.</blockquote> MassGAP had independently prepared the binder before they knew who would win the governorship. Furthermore, according to a <a href="http://scholarworks.umb.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1001&context=cwppp_pubs&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3Dromney%2520massachusetts%2520appointments%2520governor%2520women%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D10%26ved%3D0CFMQFjAJ%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fscholarworks.umb.edu%252Fcgi%252Fviewcontent.cgi%253Farticle%253D1001%2526context%253Dcwppp_pubs%26ei%3DNwBAUPL1Fsex0QGr_IGwDA%26usg%3DAFQjCNEnkwbQLEwvsYnEJhf2unkYeIYhYw#search=%22romney%20massachusetts%20appointments%20governor%20women%22" target="_hplink">later MassGAP study</a>, Romney may be truthful in touting his 42 percent female-appointment rate during his first two and a half years as governor, but that figure ignores the fact that the number of women in high-level appointed positions actually declined to 27.6 percent during his full tenure.
"There's only one president that I know of in history that robbed Medicare, $716 billion to pay for a new risky program of his own that we call 'Obamacare,'" Romney <a href="http://thehill.com/video/campaign/243293-romney-defends-ryan-says-obama-robbed-medicare-to-fund-health-reform" target="_hplink">said during an interview</a> on CBS' "60 Minutes." There's not a shred of truth to this. The figure Romney points to is actually a $716 billion cost cut out of Medicare over the next decade. According to a <a href="http://cbo.gov/sites/default/files/cbofiles/attachments/43471-hr6079.pdf" target="_hplink">report from the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office</a>, Obamacare will effectively save $716 billion, while maintaining the same operations and fulfilling promises to Medicare recipients. Under Obama's plan, these savings would then be reallocated to implement other parts of the Affordable Care Act. Notably, the same savings appear in Rep. Paul Ryan's budget.
Dog On A Roof
Romney once strapped his Irish Setter Seamus and its crate to the roof of the family station wagon during trip to Canada in 1983. The whole bizarre incident has been a huge nuisance for the GOP presidential candidate. Seriously, it even has it's own <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mitt_Romney_dog_incident">Wikipedia page</a>. In his many efforts to explain what happened on that voyage, Romney has told people both that his dog liked "fresh air," and that the crate was, in fact, air tight. It isn't possible for both statements to be accurate. Seamus either liked "fresh air," or was sealed into an air-tight transportation chamber. It was more likely neither, but it certainly can't be both.
Romney and his campaign went all in on an all-out falsehood this summer, claiming in interviews and ads that Obama ended a requirement that people on welfare must meet certain work requirements. Despite being called baseless and factually incorrect -- which they are -- Romney has defended the attacks and furthered their use in campaign speeches and anti-Obama attack ads. The Huffington Post's Arthur Delaney <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/22/romney-obama-welfare-ads_n_1823462.html">breaks down</a> the distinction between fact and fiction: <blockquote>Here is what actually happened: At the request of several states -- including two with Republican governors -- the Obama administration <a href="http://www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/ofa/policy/im-ofa/2012/im201203/im201203.html" target="_hplink">announced in July</a> that it would consider waiving certain federal welfare rules if states have ideas for "demonstration projects" they promise can increase welfare employment outcomes by 20 percent (states are required to maintain certain percentages of welfare beneficiaries in work activities or else face penalties). The administration has not announced that it has issued any waivers. But instead of saying something to the effect that the administration has potentially removed welfare work requirements, or perhaps opened the door for their eventual removal -- even those phrasings would be a big stretch -- the Romney campaign <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/13/romney-obama-welfare_n_1772151.html" target="_hplink">has been saying</a>, "Obama quietly ended work requirements for welfare."</blockquote>
'You Didn't Build That'
When Obama uttered the four words, "You didn't build that" at a campaign event over the summer, Republicans worked themselves into a frenzy trying to paint it as proof that Obama is an anti-business president who demonizes entrepreneurship and believes the government is solely responsible for economic success. They even dedicated an entire day to the phrase at the Republican National Convention. Weeks later, DNC planners were no doubt wishing Romney's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/17/mitt-romney-video_n_1829455.html">"47 percent" video</a> had leaked earlier. But unlike that video, the "you didn't build that" campaign was built on an absolute mischaracterization and false premise. Besides the fact that this small segment <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/24/obama-build-business_n_1699480.html?utm_hp_ref=politics">was cherry-picked out of larger speech</a> to make an argument that Obama wasn't actually trying to make, the numbers don't back up the GOP's assertion. Over the course of his first term, Obama has <a href="http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/24/smallbusiness/obama-tax-cuts/">enacted a series</a> of small business tax cuts, incentives and loan programs. Monthly data for small businesses has also shown modest gains in some key areas. <a href="http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-04-26/small-business-job-creation-is-stronger-than-we-think">Bloomberg Businessweek relayed one of those points</a> earlier this year: <blockquote>Job creation at small companies has also been pretty robust when compared with the previous recovery. In the 33 months since the current recovery began, small employers added 2.6 million jobs, a 2.9 percent increase in employment, ADP figures show. By contrast, in the first 33 months of the recovery from the 2001 recession, small employers added 1.8 million jobs, a 2.1 percent increase.</blockquote>
Bain Capital Timeline
Romney says he played no part in executive decision-making related to Bain Capital after 1999, as he left the company to organize the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics. Romney has steadfastly clung to this unmitigated untruth. There is a wealth of evidence, most of it provided by Romney himself, that would suggest he remained at least somewhat actively involved in Bain's decision-making processes until well after the 1999 date he provided. Reports by the <a href="http://www.bostonglobe.com/news/politics/2012/07/11/government-documents-indicate-mitt-romney-continued-bain-after-date-when-says-left/IpfKYWjnrsel4pvCFbsUTI/story.html?s_campaign=sm_tw" target="_hplink">Boston Globe</a>, <a href="http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2012/07/romney-bain-abortion-stericycle-sec" target="_hplink">Mother Jones</a> and <a href="http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2012/07/no_romney_didnt_leave_bain_in_1999.php" target="_hplink">Talking Points Memo</a> all pointed to Romney's own filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, which listed him as the "sole stockholder, chairman of the board, chief executive officer, and president" of Bain, an "executive" who drew a six-figure salary in 2001 and 2002. According to a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/mitt-romney-bain-departure_n_1669006.html" target="_hplink">report</a> from The Huffington Post's Jason Cherkis and Ryan Grim, subsequent testimony from Romney in front of the SEC appeared to corroborate the dates listed on those documents. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/12/mitt-romney-bain-departure_n_1669006.html" target="_hplink">Read their entire piece for a more in-depth account of Romney's Bain departure.</a>
Hands On Our Hearts
At a campaign stop in February, Romney made his best effort to promote American exceptionalism with a rousing, and entirely false, claim. "We are the only people on the earth that put our hand over our heart during the playing of the national anthem," he said. There is zero truth to this unusual claim. The United States isn't the only country to do this. Not even close. The Washington Post provided an <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/mitt-romneys-misfire-on-the-national-anthem/2012/02/05/gIQA5NLKsQ_blog.html" target="_hplink">anecdotal smattering</a> of additional examples in a subsequent fact check, but Romney is just plain wrong on this one.
Romney has claimed he deserves credit for the turnaround of the American auto industry because Obama took his ideas in helping to foster its eventual recovery. "I pushed the idea of a managed bankruptcy, and finally when that was done, and help was given, the companies got back on their feet," Romney <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/08/mitt-romney-auto-industry_n_1498520.html">said in an interview</a> earlier this year. "So, I'll take a lot of credit for the fact that this industry has come back." He <a href="http://huff.to/P8EkQk">also tried to walk a similar line</a>, repeating this relentless falsehood at the second presidential debate. Weeks after the 2008 election, Romney penned an op-ed in the New York Times titled "<a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/opinion/19romney.html?_r=3">Let Detroit Go Bankrupt</a>." In it, he argued that the proposed bailout for the American automobile industry would prevent it from making the changes it would need to achieve longterm success. The eventual assistance offered to American car companies, first by President George W. Bush and then under Obama, didn't prevent all of them from going bankrupt. Chrysler and GM both filed for bankruptcy in mid-2009, and Romney has used this point to attempt to draw parallels to his stated plan, as well as argue that Obama wasted billions of dollars by not forcing them into bankruptcy earlier. But David Shepardson of the Detroit News <a href="http://www.detroitnews.com/article/20120909/POLITICS01/209090347#ixzz291nC4mey">points out</a> that there are clear differences between how Obama acted and what Romney had planned: <blockquote>Obama's auto task force used a section under the bankruptcy code to use government money to buy the "good assets" of GM and Chrysler in bankruptcy by outbidding anyone else, allowing the companies to exit in just 40 days. If Romney's course had been adopted, GM and Chrysler could have been in bankruptcy for months or years before exiting -- and would have had much more debt on their balance sheets.</blockquote> Following Obama's action, the auto industry rebounded, and thousands of jobs were saved or created. Economists Mark Zandi and Alan Blinder <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/07/obama-dnc-auto-bailout_n_1865584.html">wrote</a> that this success could not have been achieved without the financial help Romney opposed.
Iran Nuclear Policy
In March, Romney <a href="http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/03/05/romney-to-11-year-old-iran-will-get-nuke-if-obama-re-elected/">crafted an attack on Obama</a> that he's since echoed when criticizing the president on foreign policy: “This is a president who has failed to put in place crippling sanctions against Iran. He’s also failed to communicate that military options are on the table and in fact in our hand, and that it’s unacceptable to America for Iran to have a nuclear weapon.” This claim holds no connection to the truth. The Obama administration, together with Congress, has <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/world/middleeast/10sanctions.html">passed measures</a> that impose <a href="http://www.jpost.com/International/Article.aspx?id=279752">tough new sanctions</a> on Iran's energy sector and financial system. Together with key western allies, the U.S. has also passed sanctions through the UN Security Council that target the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls the Iranian nuclear program. The U.S. also pressed European Union countries to agree to an oil embargo on Iran that took effect this past summer. Obama has also repeatedly said that it is unacceptable for Iran to get a nuclear weapon. He <a href="http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/03/obama-to-iran-and-israel-as-president-of-the-united-states-i-dont-bluff/253875/">told Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic</a>: <blockquote>“I think both the Iranian and the Israeli governments recognize that when the United States says it is unacceptable for Iran to have a nuclear weapon, we mean what we say."</blockquote>
The Obama administration <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20121009/us-early-voting-dispute/">tried to take away</a> early voting rights for veterans in Ohio, Romney has claimed. This is 100 percent false. When Ohio Republicans eliminated early voting on weekends for all except veterans this year, the Obama administration sued to keep the Saturday and Sunday window open for all voters. The Romney camp attempted to spin this as a move to strip veterans of voting privileges, when in fact it was a move by the administration to expand voting opportunities for everyone.
AAA Credit Rating
<a href="http://www.mittromney.com/news/press/2012/08/president-obamas-downgrade-day">Obama is to blame</a> for the nation's AAA credit rating being downgraded, Romney has suggested on a number of instances. But the actual truth tells a much different story here. According to an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thom-hartmann/mainstream-media-ignores-_b_920145.html">analysis from Standard & Poor's</a>, the rating agency that downgraded America's credit rating from AAA to AA+ in the summer of 2011, the decision to downgrade was partially because "the majority of Republicans in Congress continue to resist any measure that would raise revenues." As <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/07/22/obama-debt-ceiling-talks-boehner_n_907502.html">has been reported</a>, Obama struck a deal to avoid the growing threat of default but was undermined by Tea Party Republicans who backed out of the compromise at the last minute, continuing their game of political brinksmanship. As S&P put it, "The statutory debt ceiling and the threat of default have become political bargaining chips in the debate over fiscal policy." Republican obstructionism played a significant part in the downgrade.
Obama's Jobs Plan
Romney has frequently attempted to claim that Obama has not put forth a jobs plan. At the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Romney said, "And unlike the president, I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs." Another unrestrained, truth-free statement. Obama's jobs plan, the <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/09/08/fact-sheet-american-jobs-act" target="_hplink">American Jobs Act (2011)</a>, was shot down by Congress after he promised that his plan wouldn't add to the deficit. While Obama's legislation hasn't passed, it does, in fact, exist. As for Romney's plan to create "12 million new jobs," Moody Analytics projects that the untouched economy <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/08/30/factchecker-romneys-12-million-job-promise/">would produce something close to that</a> over the next 4 years, regardless of who is in the White House.
Obama Apologizes For America
Over the course of his campaign, Romney has frequently suggested that Obama is guilty of "apologizing for America" instead of standing up for the nation's interests. This is one of Romney's favorite criticisms, and entirely untrue. Fact-checkers and other people with eyes and ears have consistently debunked Romney's claims each time they're made, pointing out that the word "apology" simply doesn't apply to the actions and words Obama has used. PolitiFact <a href="http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2012/sep/12/romney-says-us-embassy-statement-was-apology-was-i/">perhaps put it best</a> in the wake of Romney's <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/12/mitt-romney-obama-libya_n_1877406.html?utm_hp_ref=politics&utm_hp_ref=politics">highly criticized decision</a> to use the terrorist attack on a U.S. consulate in Libya as an opportunity to criticize the president: <blockquote>This is a theme for Romney: He has long accused Obama of apologizing for America, starting in 2010, when Romney published No Apology: The Case for American Greatness. Since then, he has repeatedly criticized what he has called an "apology tour" by Obama shortly after he took office. PolitiFact has examined those speeches, consulted experts on speechmaking and apologies, and rated Romney's claim Pants on Fire.</blockquote> Obama might have some things he thinks America needs to apologize for, but sorry, he's not saying so.
On numerous occasions, Romney has claimed that Obama "has not signed one new free-trade agreement" since entering office. That's inarguably false. The president has signed multiple free-trade deals, with <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/15/obama-us-colombia-free-trade-agreement_n_1427144.html">Colombia</a>, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/10/12/panama-trade-deal_n_1007999.html">Panama</a> and <a href="http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/obama-gets-win-as-congress-passes-free-trade-agreements/2011/10/12/gIQAGHeFgL_story.html">South Korea</a>. They've all been approved by Congress and signed by Obama. The agreements didn't go over without a hitch. Organized labor forces opposed some of the specifics, but ironically, many of the pro-business, GOP-aligned forces that Romney represents <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/15/romneys-obama-trade-record-republican-allies_n_1601092.html">hailed their passage</a> as a strong step in the right direction. Romney, on the other hand, has chosen to pretend they don't exist. His campaign claims the statement is strictly true, arguing that the deals are not "new" because they were first negotiated under the Bush administration, and only completed under this administration.