The Republicans gained little momentum for their presidential ticket coming out of the GOP convention in Tampa last week. In fact, the most memorable moment of the convention was Clint Eastwood's chat with the "Invisible Man."
One obvious conclusion is that Mitt Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan failed to offer viewers details about how they would fix the economy. Another is that lying about your opponent's record on so many key issues may fire up your base, but it won't help win over undecided voters. The convention's theme might have been "The Mendacity of Hope."
Now the Democrats convene in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a task of setting the record straight on the many Republican distortions, while, at the same time, offering a clear vision of how to move the nation forward. For instance, the false claim by Republicans that the president has waived the work requirement for welfare. In fact, the Department of Health and Human Services plan is designed to let states create alternative strategies aimed at improving employment outcomes by giving the states more flexibility, as long as they commit to increasing the number of people leaving welfare for work by 20 percent. If states fail to reach the target the plan is terminated.
In an effort to court blue-collar white workers, the Romney campaign has been running a television ad that claims, "Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check." Yet, two Republican governors that wanted more control over work requirements originally requested the new policy from the White House, the same waiver then Governor Romney requested in 2005 along with 28 other governors.
Republicans have also accused President Obama of cutting Medicare by $716 billion and hurting seniors. But the president's actions are not cuts, they are only reductions in payments to insurance companies and health providers, and not to patients. These are the same Medicare savings Rep. Paul Ryan called for in his budget.
Rep. Ryan also claimed the president was responsible for the closing of a General Motors plant in his hometown of Janesville, Wisconsin. But GM announced the closing of the plant before President Obama was elected and before the president's auto bailout, which is credited with saving the industry.
"It began with a perfect AAA credit rating for the United States. It ends with the downgraded America." With those words, Rep. Ryan also blamed the president for the downgrading of the U.S. credit rating. But the credit rating was downgraded because Congress would not pass a debt-ceiling bill so the government could pay for money it had already spent. Republicans in Congress held the debt-ceiling hostage in exchange for deep spending cuts. They took America to the fiscal brink. In lowering the credit rating, Standard and Poor's said, "the political brinkmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America's governance and policy making becoming less stable, less effective and less predictable than what we previously believed."
Rep. Ryan also attacked the president for his handling of the deficit. "He created a new bipartisan debt commission," Mr. Ryan said. "They came back with an urgent report. He thanked them, sent them on their way and then did exactly nothing." Mr. Ryan failed to point out he served on the commission and opposed their final proposals, which included some tax increases. His opposition was a major blow to enactment of any of its proposals. This is the same Mr. Ryan who recently claimed to run a marathon in less than three hours, a remarkable feat. Now he admits that claim is not true.
Republicans say the president's stimulus package did not work. Yet most economists say that the stimulus package kept America from entering a second Great Depression. And since President Obama took office, in the depths of the Bush Recession, the U.S. economy has added more than four million private sector jobs. Economic growth remains anemic, but the world is still in the grips of a global recession.
The president was accused of conducting an "apology tour" for U.S. foreign policy. Yet the president has never apologized for America. In fact, when he received his Nobel Peace Prize, President Obama defended American foreign policy. Meanwhile, the president made getting Osama bin-Laden a top priority and his policies have decimated the al-Qaeda terrorist organization.
From the first day of Barack Obama's presidency, Republicans, including Rep. Ryan, plotted a strategy to win back the White House in 2012. Denounce, delay, deny, divide, and deceive. So deep is their dislike of President Obama, that many accuse him of being a socialist, a Muslim, lying about being born in Hawaii, and about his grade point average in college.
At their convention, Democrats must not only set the record straight on President Obama's record, they also must unite around a plan that will take this country forward. The president must effectively communicate what he will do in a second term to reduce unemployment and rebuild the American economy.
We are, indeed, at a crossroads. In November, will voters reward those who will do and say anything to get elected? Or will they side with hope and change?
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