Last week, I watched as Mitt Romney stood on a stage and lied in front of millions of Americans during one of the most watched presidential debates in history. I've been so anxious -- and angry -- ever since when I look at poll numbers that inch towards giving Romney a victory.
I hate feeling so negative, and using the "L" word. But it's time. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have lied about everything from the impact of their Medicare plan on seniors to the number of unemployed. Romney's much harped upon flip-flops have grown into full-blown lies. His policy positions change day to day and hour to hour depending on who he's talking to. If he becomes president, which of these positions will he take when it comes time to sign a bill into law or appointing a Supreme Court justice?
I am scared that it's the extreme conservative positions he'll take if he comes to hold office. I am scared of the impact his policies would have on women. Romney's "positions" on reproductive health, health care reform, and tax policy all threaten the women's economic and health security. Here are the three biggest lies Mitt Romney has told that will hurt American women:
1. Reproductive health: Last week the campaign took its lies to a whole new level regarding reproductive health. Romney told the Des Moines Register, "There's no legislation with regards to abortion that I'm familiar with that would become part of my agenda." But just two hours later, Romney Press Secretary Andrea Saul said Romney "would of course support legislation aimed at providing greater protections for life." And in 2011, Romney said he would "absolutely" support a Constitutional amendment defining the beginning of life as the moment of conception.
Following the Des Moines Register publishing his remarks, Romney personally called Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, to reassure him that he's as anti-choice as ever. Perkins was unconcerned with the statement, saying "no alarm bells here." Mitt Romney is trying to appear moderate while walking back comments to hold his base. He can't have his cake and eat it too.
2. Obamacare: Despite the fact that Romney's crowning policy achievement as governor in my home state, Mass Health, served as a blueprint for the Affordable Care Act, Romney has pledged to overturn the reform if he becomes president. However, Romney has no plan for what he'd do to cover the millions of Americans who now have health insurance thanks to the ACA (for example, people with pre-existing conditions and Americans under the age of 26 who are now able to stay on their parents' policies). During the first presidential debate, Romney said that his plan covers those with pre-existing conditions. However, his plan only helps those who are able to maintain continuous health care coverage, meaning that those who are out of work and uninsured are out of luck. My friend Erin Vest would lose everything, just because she has lupus. Who do you know who could lose everything because of an illness?
Romney's plan would not address the costs associated with preventative care for women, which the ACA removes, allowing women to get cancer screenings and birth control for no cost. If Obamacare is overturned, women will suffer the consequences. Mitt Romney's health care plan denies help to those who are sick, who are out of work, or whose employers don't offer affordable health insurance.
3. Taxes and the deficit: Romney has insisted that he wants to cut taxes by 20 percent across the board. And he maintains that this can be paid for by closing loopholes and deductions, though he hasn't specified which ones. But even if all loopholes and deductions were closed, economists say that these tax cuts still couldn't be offset. If Romney insists on dramatic tax cuts for the wealthiest, only one solution exists: increasing taxes on everyone else and slashing funding for programs we depend upon. But now Romney is saying he doesn't want to cut taxes for the wealthy. Which is it? Is Mitt Romney going to raise my taxes to pay for cuts for the 1 percent? How's he going to pay for any of it?
And by the way, I am one of those "job-creating small-business owners" you love to laud -- not a "taker," Mssrs. Ryan and Romney.
I want my kids to go to good schools, to drive on roads and bridges that are safe, to know that I'm protected by police and firefighters, and yes, that I can flip on Sesame Street for my kids. I want to know that women in need will still have access to programs like WIC and SNAP, that their kids will have the same opportunities to go to good schools, that they'll receive health care. But if Romney cuts taxes for the wealthiest, either taxes on the middle class will have to go up, or programs and funding women and their families depend upon will be slashed.
American women can't trust Mitt Romney because we don't know where he stands on any given issue. Mitt Romney isn't just flip-flopping now, he's telling boldfaced lies to the American people. Time and time again, Romney has said one thing and then backtracked to please his base with no regard to how his policies would affect people in reality.
We all know Mitt Romney wants to win the presidency, but does he actually want to be president? He's already discounted almost half of Americans for being entitled and the lies he's telling indicate he doesn't really want women's support either.
This piece was reported with help from Kaitlyn Dowling. My firm, Women Online, consults for the Obama campaign but all opinions are my own.