Our Quote of the Day Is a Quote of the Day: Mitt Romney’s Political Doublespeak

I’m still scratching my head on this one. I’m sitting here in my motel in Darlington, Wisconsin, and was just about to put a political Quote of the Day up on TMV when I visited a few websites and saw THIS. This underscores why Mitt Romney a)is having trouble with conservatives because to many he seems to be someone who says whatever he thinks he needs to say to get votes, b)will have trouble and be almost a political candystore to Team Obama.

Our political Quote of the Day is for the first time a Quote of the Day from another site. From Political Wire. Read the quote and then the explanation. Which I’ve boldfaced:

Quote of the Day
“This week, President Obama will release a budget that won’t take any meaningful steps toward solving our entitlement crisis. The president has failed to offer a single serious idea to save Social Security and is the only president in modern history to cut Medicare benefits for seniors.”

– Mitt Romney, quoted by the Boston Globe, blaming President Obama for failing to curb the growth of entitlement spending while at the same time criticizing him for cutting Medicare benefits.

So which is it?

Increasingly, many voters of both parties and conservatives (who don’t trust him since he used to be considered a moderate) and moderates (who don’t trust him because the way he has now run away from having been a moderate) are likely to conclude that he fits this song from “Chicago.”

But not because you don’t know he’s there.

But because in political terms everyone can see right through him:

  

20 Comments

  1. This quote has finally done it! The Borg are unable to fathom it and have fully retreated, lest they should have their circuits destroyed.

  2. Let us not forget his keen political acumen in writing an op-ed piece for the Detroit News attacking auto unions as part of criticizing the car company bailout, which he lays completely at Obama’s feet.

  3. Off topic, probably, but John C. Reilly is really an amazing entertainer. Many look at him as a comedian but he is a tremendous actor and singer/dancer, too.

  4. Jim S

    That is his Valentine Day gift to the Democrats. It will probably convince some of us to vote for him…

    I am seriously beginning to wonder if a) he really really doesn’t want to be President or b) he really really isn’t terribly bright.

  5. This is an example of how the flip-flopper label, while partially deserved, feeds off of itself in the media to the point where it is seen where it doesn’t exist.

    For one thing, Social Security and Medicare are two separate things, obviously. But, more importantly, it is not mutually exclusive to want to save social security and medicare from fiscal collapse and also not to want to cut benefits for seniors (ETA: In fact, not fixing the fiscal situation is the most sure way to ensure there *will* be cuts to benefits). Every politician will tell you that they want to do that, so are the all double-speaking, or is it just Mitt?

    Of course, actually doing it is a difficult matter, and if you think his plan is lacking, that’s fair game for criticism. But the concept is not contradictory.

  6. Also, the cuts to Medicare that were made in the ACA went towards a new entitlement program, not towards helping Medicare solvency. This fact was backed up by the CBO, and, if memory serves me, the Medicare trustees. So, I’d say that not only is his statement not contradictory, it’s a pretty good criticism: Obama cut Medicare but still managed to not help its solvency.

  7. adelinesdad

    I think the author believes that the candidate Romney’s plan to save Social Security and Medicare is to curb it’s growth (or even cut benefits), which Romney doesn’t think candidate Obama’s budget will do. He then appears to criticize candidate Obama for doing just that – cutting Medicare to curb expenses.

    This contradiction confuses the rest of us.

  8. Has Romney actually said he wants to cut Medicare benefits (which is not the same as “curb it’s growth” which everyone agrees we must do)? If so, I will see your point.

    ETA: Secondly, even if he has said or implied such a thing, can you argue that most politicians aren’t rhetorically in favor of curbing Medicare’s growth while not cutting benefits? While that doesn’t excuse Romney, it does bring up the question of why he’s being singled out.

  9. (Disregard my ETA above. It doesn’t make sense and is irrelevant. My question stands as it is.)

  10. Clicking through the links I had to tunnel all the way to here just to see the offending quote, which was truncated by Political Wire, and, hence, Joe. The full quote is this:

    “The president has failed to offer a single serious idea to save Social Security and is the only president in modern history to cut Medicare benefits for seniors. I believe we can save Social Security and Medicare with a few common-sense reforms, and – unlike President Obama – I’m not afraid to put them on the table.”

    OK. So he says we can reform it without cutting benefits and he’ll put those proposals on the table. Has he? Well it turns out yes he has. Some consider it too timid or don’t like it, but in fact he has made some proposals.

    Thus he appears to be being unfairly tarred here.

  11. I don’t know, Dean. Is there a real difference between not offering a proposal and offering one that won’t work in the real world?

  12. In this context, yes. Of course, some would dispute your claim that it wouldn’t work in the real world, which is my point: a bad proposal is fair game for criticism, but that’s not the same as the accusation of double-speak.

  13. Romney has signed onto Cut, Cap, and Balance, as have all the Republican candidates, except Ron Paul and Michele Bachmann, which says it specifically will not cut Medicare or Social Security (nothing about not cutting Medicaid).

    http://www.dailypaul.com/17126.....alance-act

    This hasn’t passed, yet, but if it does (and I assume Romney as President will promote that); unless the revenue picks up considerably faster than anyone expects, there must be big cuts in Defense, Medicare and Social Security.

    http://www.cbpp.org/cms/index......38;id=3537

    So you can plan to cut with legislation without ever saying you plan to cut with legislation. That’s the way the game’s played.

  14. Support for CCB is not mutually exclusive with support for finding a fiscally sustainable path for Medicare. CCB may not include certain entitlement programs but there’s no reason Romney can’t also be for an additional plan to address it (and he is, as has already been noted).

    Illustration: ACA didn’t address immigration reform, but that doesn’t mean Obama opposes immigration reform.

    p.s. How would passage of CCB necessitate more cuts in Medicare than would otherwise be needed to make it sustainable? If anything, it would lessen the need for cuts.

  15. Are you saying Medicare must be cut whether it’s done by CCB, which Romney agrees with, or by another “fiscally sustainable path” which he will adopt? I agree, but that’s not what Romney is saying – which was your previous observation not mine.

    p.s. Both Ron Paul and Mr. Steinman answered that question, if you read the links. The cuts would be way more than needed to make it sustainable.

  16. We’re playing fast and loose with the meaning of words here and creating a false choice. Supporting a “fiscally sustainable path” or “curbing the growth” of Medicare is not the same as “cutting benefits.” Politicians of all stripes have advocated the former. Almost no politicians would admit to being for the latter. To pretend there is no difference is to ignore the last few years of political debate on the matter. Even Obama, when cutting Medicare advantage, would not refer to it as cutting benefits. He would say they were eliminating duplicity and inefficiency. Is Obama guilty of double-speak also?

    Your two links appear to contradict each other, or they are talking about two different things. Since you brought it up, I’d ask you to clarify what argument you are making here: You said CCB would not cut Medicare. Then you said it would, and by more than is needed. I’m sure I’m misunderstanding what it is you are trying to say. Maybe you can help me resolve my confusion?

  17. I think the doublespeak is meant to point out the contrast between not making any “meaningful” steps toward solving the entitlement “crisis” (which can really only be taken to mean that the entitlement programs are spending too much) while criticizing a cut in spending to one of those entitlement programs. You can’t say it’s a cut so meaningful that it will be a problem to make the cut, while saying it’s so meaningless that it isn’t a step at all. It can’t being not meaningful and yet meaningful at the same time.

  18. Maybe we should start over

    ME:[I think the author believes that the candidate Romney’s plan to save Social Security and Medicare is to curb it’s growth (or even cut benefits), which Romney doesn’t think candidate Obama’s budget will do. He then appears to criticize candidate Obama for doing just that – cutting Medicare to curb expenses.

    This contradiction confuses the rest of us.]

    YOU: [Has Romney actually said he wants to cut Medicare benefits (which is not the same as “curb it’s growth” which everyone agrees we must do)? If so, I will see your point.]

    My point was to show that Romney DOES want to cut Medicare, though he hasn’t (and, we’ve agreed, never will) actually said so, and he plans to do so by signing on to the CCB proposal. Probably I could have made my point in a more coherent manner, but I think the point is nevertheless valid.

    No politician would admit to cutting Medicare, as you say, and Romney will not say cuts will happen either. Though they will because they must if the propsal he wishes to enact is followed.

    From the Steinman link:

    “Talking points that the legislation’s proponents circulated on July 15 seek to foster an impression that the measure would protect Social Security and Medicare. Such an impression would not be accurate. The legislation would inexorably subject Social Security and Medicare to deep reductions.”

    From the Paul link:

    “First, it purports to eventually balance the budget without cutting military spending, Social Security, or Medicare. This is impossible. These three budget items already cost nearly $1 trillion apiece annually. This means we can cut every other area of federal spending to zero and still have a $3 trillion budget. Since annual federal tax revenues almost certainly will not exceed $2.5 trillion for several years, this Act cannot balance the budget under any plausible scenario.”

    Mr. Paul’s implication is that cuts must be made in those areas if the budget is to be balanced – which is what Mr. Silverstein also said. I see no contradiction.

    And yet Romney says Obama won’t do what must be done – cut Medicare, while at the same time criticizing what Obama did do – cut Medicare.

  19. Ohioan,

    I think I understand better where you are coming from. The two links are making very different points from different ideological perspectives, but I think I see how you are distilling a single message from them.

    So, you are arguing that Romney is criticizing Obama for cutting benefits when he, himself, would also have to cut benefits to meet the fiscal targets prescribed by the CCB proposal. He would argue that he can achieve those targets via other means, and has explicitly said that he will not cut benefits. You might question whether that is realistic, and you might be right, but that wasn’t the original accusation to which I was responding.

    So I think my original point has been lost in the back-and-forth. Let me regroup and try again later.

  20. I don’t feel I’ve done my argument justice, so I’ll try one more time, if anyone still cares.

    Mitt’s charge is that Obama isn’t taking any “meaningful steps toward solving our entitlement crisis” and hasn’t offered “a single serious idea to save Social Security”. At the same time, he charges that Obama cut Medicare benefits. The charge against Mitt is that these two claims are contradictory. Not only are they not contradictory, but they are pretty accurate.

    The fact that Obama cut Medicare benefits does not necessarily mean that he took any “meaningful steps toward solving our entitlement crisis” or that it was a “serious idea to save Social Security.” Roro, this isn’t a quantitative accusation. Imagine if a Republican made a proposal to slash certain Medicare benefits that Democrats considered important. How would democrats describe it? Would they say it was a “meaningful step” or a “serious idea” to fix Medicare? Of course not. In fact, such ideas coming from Republicans are often described by democrats as killing Medicare, not saving it.

    Secondly, when Obama cut Medicare benefits, he didn’t use the savings to put back into the Medicare system. He used them to offset the costs of additional entitlement programs. Of course, he also claimed they were helping Medicare at the same time, which is a supreme example of double-speak (and extremely significant, policy-wise), if you want to compare and contrast. But, of course we know that money can’t be spent on two different things. It can’t both help save Medicare and offset costs of new programs at the same time. So, the claim that Obama cut benefits and also did not help save Medicare is accurate.

    After that, the conversation migrated to the tangential subject of whether Romney’s support of CCB would necessitate cuts to Medicare benefits. I’ve partially addressed that already, to which I would add this: There is not just one CCB proposal out there. The proposal that Ohioan links to is one that limits government spending to 18% of GDP. On Romney’s website, he says his “goal” is not to exceed 20% of GDP and that he would cap discretionary spending. Whether he would write that goal into law or whether that is just the number that he hopes his policies would reach isn’t clear. Would he be willing to cut Medicare benefits if it is necessary to meet that goal? He said no. Without a time machine, it’s premature to say he’s hypocritical for something that he hasn’t done yet.

    That’s all I’ve got. There’s enough BS in politics from politicians, including Romney, as well as media pundits. I don’t think we need to add to it by creating contradiction where there is none. Romney’s statement is straight-forward, consistent, and pretty accurate as far as political spin goes, but is being twisting to match their people’s preconceived ideas of Romney. I’m disappointed that we can’t put aside these petty, manufactured controversies and talk about substantial issues.

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