The Last Word | August 22, 2012
>>> since 1996 , welfare recipients were required to work. this bipartisan reform successfully reduced welfare rolls. on july 12th , president obama quietly ended the work requirement, gutting welfare reform .
>> in the spotlight tonight, mitt romney 's big lies. now, i know that doesn't exactly narrow down the subject we are about to discuss, since he's told so many big lies, but specifically tonight, we are focusing on his lies about welfare and medicare . first, the welfare lie. a former republican congressman who actually voted for the 1996 welfare bill, just can't take it anymore. he can't take mitt romney 's lie.
>> i was talking to a very loyal republican over the weekend, and usually the republican will say, hey, you know, joe, you've got this wrong. mitt's this and mitt's that. and so, i said to him, i said, can you help me out on something? because i've been looking for a week and a half to try to figure out the basis of this welfare reform add. like, what is -- he goes, that's completely false.
>> the romney /ryan about america's new protectors of medicare isn't working either.
>> with regards to seniors, those are people who are today 55 years of age and older. today's seniors, if you will. my plan presents no change. the plan stays the same. no adjustments, no changes, no savings. the president's plan cuts medicare -- excuse me. well, let's see. i've got to -- there we go, by $716 billion.
>> despite mitt romney 's best efforts at the whiteboard, the nbc news/" wall street journal " poll shows president obama with a 16-point advantage on medicare . when asked whose plan for medicare do you agree with, 50% said president obama 's, 34% said mitt romney 's. and "new york times" today exposed romney 's medicare law nightly in this headline. "patients would pay more if romney restores medicare savings, analysts say." the times correctly referred to the $716 billion as medicare savings, not medicare cuts. one economist quoted in "the times" piece called romney 's pledge to restore the savings both puzzling and bogus, while harvard health expert john mcdonough said this. "there are only two explanations, either they don't understand how the program works, which is hard to imagine, or there is some deliberate misrepresentation here, because they know how politically potent this charge is." well, actually, both things are possible. they cannot understand medicare and know that they're lying about medicare at the same time. today, in nevada, president obama explained what motivates mitt romney 's lies.
>> less than 11 weeks, not that i'm counting, but -- we will, we will see the other side spend more money than we've ever seen on ads. and, you know, these aren't like positive ads, where they're putting out their plan, because they don't really have a plan. and the plan they've got won't work.
>> mitt romney is a truly relentless liar, but he is really just the inheriter of an old republican tradition of lying about democrats. 60 years ago, the last democratic presidential nominee from illinois, adlai stevenson , said this. if republicans will stop telling lies about the democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them. joining me now for more truth about the republicans, robert reich , former labor secretary under president clinton , now a professor of economics at the university of california berkeley , and author of the book, "beyond outrage," which will be in stores next week, and jared bernstein , a senior fellow on the center of budget and policy priorities, and an msnbc contributor. he is the former chief economist to vice president biden. robert reich , adlai stevenson 's old words could not be more relevant to today's campaign.
>> exactly right. but, you know, there has been a change over the years. i've been involved in about is six, possibly seven presidential campaigns. i've never seen such bald-faced lies as i am hearing in this campaign from republicans. i mean, there are bfuscatioobfuscations, there are sort of -- and politics is riddled with half-lies and half-truths, and there are mendacious statements, but these are actual bald-faced lies and they're doing them repeatedly. i think the reason they're doing them is they know they have so much money. they've got $1 billion, and if you tell a big lie over and over again, even though the mainstream media , even though everybody else who knows the facts are trying to get out the facts, it doesn't matter. you tell the bald-face lied over and over again with $1 billion behind you, then some people are going to believe it. and if they believe it, they might vote for you.
>> let's listen to the latest message that mitt romney has approved about medicare .
>> some think obama care is the same as free health care , but nothing is free. obama is raiding $716 billion from medicare , changing the program forever. taxing wheelchairs and pacemakers, raising taxes on families making less than $120,000. free health care comes at a very high price. the romney /ryan plan will store medicare funding and protect and strengthen the program for the next generation.
>> i'm mitt romney and i approve this message.
>> jared bernstein , i'm going to give you equal time to respond to that message.
>> thank you. the thing that -- one of the things that caught my ear there is the suggestion that by putting that $716 billion back in, you -- mitt romney will extend the life of the program. it's exactly the opposite. those dollars, that $716 billion, are extra costs that are currently in medicare , taken out by the president in the affordable care act , that are engaged in things like overpayments to private insurers, excessive reimbursement rates. when you take those out, according to that very groovy guy, the medicare actuary, you actually extend the life of the program by eight years. and this was quite clear in all of these factual rebuttals. by putting that money back in, he's actually shortening the life of the program by eight years. this is the hospital insurance trust fund . so that's completely upside down. the other piece of that, that i think is outright false is that the suggestion that those dollars actually come out of beneficiaries. as i just stated, and the reason it extends the life of the trust fund , is because those dollars come from inefficiencies on the delivery side, nothing on the beneficiary side. in fact, the affordable care improves the benefits of medicare .
>> let's listen to the president's own defense against mitt romney 's welfare lie.
>> my administration responding to the requests of five governors, including two republican governoapprove giving them, t hose states, some flexibility in how they manage their welfare roles, as long as it produced 20% increases in the number of people who are getting work. so in other words, we would potentially give states more flexibility to put more people back to work, not to take them off the work requirement under welfare.
>> robert reich , that's what the truth sounds like on this issue.
>> again, it's exactly the opposite of what romney has been saying. and the president responding -- you know, the republicans for years have been saying, we want more flexibility at the state level for a lot of these programs. so what the president does, he turns around and he says, okay, states, you have some more flexibility, particularly if you're going to put more welfare recipients to work. then romney turns around and says, what the president did is exactly the opposite of the truth. the president actually says romney got rid of the work requirement. i mean, nothing could be further from the truth. just like as jared said, with regard to the medicare reform and the affordable care act , which actually pushes providers, gets excessive reimbursements down, and helps beneficiaries, and helps extend the life of the program, what romney is saying, it actually takes away from the program, and it's going to take away from beneficiaries. what romney is doing, again and again and again, with the help of huge amounts of donations from billionaires is basically telling the american people the exact reverse of the truth.
>> lawrence, if i might, i actually went to the health and human services document that romney 's ad was based on. and this is where the government itself is going forth and saying to the states, here's how you can apply for a waiver. here's what it says. you can ask for new, more effective ways to meet the goals of welfare, particularly helping parents successfully prepare for, find, and retain employment. prepare for, find, and retain employment. does that sound to you like you're ending the work requirement?
>> not to me. robert reich and and jared bernstein , thank you both very much for joining me tonight.
>> thanks, lawrence.
>>> coming up, john boehner accidentally exposed one of the republican lies about government spending . that's in the "rewrite."
>>> and first lady michelle obama is more important on the campaign trail than ever. we'll show you a very revealing personal interview she did this