(By NCrissie B)
The politics are clear as day. With President Obama’s solid leads among women and persons of color, Mitt Romney must improve on Sen. John McCain’s 2008 edge among white men. But Romney hasn’t done that in key states, reveals a recent New York Times/Quinnipiac poll.
Thus, the Romney campaign has released a new ad that blatantly lies about President Obama’s decision to let states apply for waivers under the 1996 welfare reform law, if states can show their proposals will help more parents find jobs. The president’s policy makes perfect sense in a still-sluggish economy, as the Washington Monthly‘s Ed Kilgore explains:
More fundamental, of course, is the fact, which you might think Republicans would remember since they talk about it with every breath, that the economy is not creating a lot of jobs right now. Liberal critics warned back in 1996 that a reform scheme that might work in the red-hot tight-labor-market economy of that time would not necessarily work so well in a recession, and they were right (which is one reason that the Clinton administration and us Work First advocates favored a back-up paid community service option, which most conservatives were not interested in). If ever there was an appropriate time to relax specific work requirements to give recipients a few more options, this is it.
Wonkery aside, it’s no mystery why the Romney campaign and its supporters are pursuing this dishonest and deeply hypocritical tack. In a “memorandum” released to support the new ad’s claims, Romney campaign policy director Lanhee Chan accuses Obama of inflicting “a kick in the gut to the millions of hard-working middle-class taxpayers struggling in today’s economy, working more for less but always preferring self-sufficiency to a government handout.” It’s the old welfare-queen meme, which Republicans have already been regularly reviving in their attacks on the Affordable Care Act, on Medicaid, on food stamps, and in their much broader and horrifyingly invidious claims that poor and minority people deliberately taking out mortgages they knew they couldn’t afford caused the whole housing market collapse and the financial crisis that followed.
Yes, hardworking Americans are feeling squeezed as they watch billionaires get richer and big corporations’ profits soar while many can’t find jobs that pay living wages. The central question of the 2012 election is what to do about that.
President Obama will protect the middle class by ensuring everyone pays their fair share and plays by the same rules, instead of billionaires and big corporations stacking the deck against workers and small businesses.
Mitt Romney will raise taxes on hardworking Americans to pay for tax cuts for the rich – what President Obama aptly called “Romney Hood” – and return to “the Bush plan, just updated.”
Romney knows he can’t sell that plan, unless he can convince working class white men to blame their plight on the people Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), called “the takers,” the working poor and especially women and persons of color. Romney endorsed the House Republican budget that President Obama correctly described as “thinly-veiled Social Darwinism” and then selected its architect to be his Vice Presidential nominee.
Romney gets away with [lying] because he and his team realize contemporary political journalism isn’t equipped to deal with a candidate who lies this much, about so many topics, so often.
In that climate, it makes perfect political sense to lie yet again and say President Obama will just “send you your welfare check.” With the Romney camp spewing so many so fast, saying “that’s a lie” loses its impact. And if I note that every working person in the ad is white, I’m “playing the race card.”
Voters face a clear choice this November, and we progressive Democratic activists must make sure they understand that choice. President Obama and Democrats stand with working Americans and small businesses. Mitt Romney and Republicans stand with billionaires and big corporations. If we focus on that message … America wins.