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Romney and Ryan campaign together in New Hampshire

August 20, 2012|By Michael Finnegan and Mitchell Landsberg

MANCHESTER, N.H. -- Independent fact-checkers have been sent into overdrive during this presidential campaign, knocking down assertion after assertion by Mitt Romney and President Obama. On Monday, Romney’s running mate Paul Ryan demonstrated anew that for both campaigns, fact-checkers are merely annoyances to brush past.

At a joint appearance with Romney on the campus green at St. Anselm College, Ryan started by gilding Romney’s resume as the founder of Bain Capital, the Boston investment firm, in his introduction of the former Massachusetts governor to the crowd.

“He took struggling businesses and turned them around,” the Wisconsin congressman said of Romney. “An 80% success rate – that’s astounding. I am proud to stand next to a man who created jobs – tens of thousands of which made more prosperity and more opportunity for working Americans.”

Asked for backup for those assertions, Romney’s campaign provided a March 2012 letter from Bain partners describing the firm’s record from its founding in 1984 until 2012. “Despite political attacks that tend to emphasize the few companies that struggled, the facts are that revenues grew during our ownership in 80 percent of the more than 350 companies in which we have invested,” it says.

Romney has insisted that he left the firm in 1999 and bears no responsibility for Bain investments in firms that laid off workers or went bankrupt after his departure. The campaign had no immediate response when asked to identify the tens of thousands of jobs created by Romney. President Obama and his allies have accused Romney of pocketing millions of dollars in fees from Bain takeover deals that led to plant closings and thousands of layoffs. The Wall Street Journal has reported that of 77 Bain clients between the company’s founding in 1984 and 1999, 22% either filed for bankruptcy reorganization or closed.  

Ryan’s presence at the New Hampshire rally was a boost for Romney, who rarely draws such large crowds. But it also showcased the tendency by the Romney and Obama campaigns to take liberties with facts when it suits their needs. Obama, for example, has contended falsely that Romney left Massachusetts with a $1-billion deficit at the end of his term as governor.

In New Hampshire on Monday, it was Ryan who distorted Romney’s record as governor, saying: “He balanced the budget without raising taxes.”

Romney, who was required by the state Constitution to balance the budget, increased corporate taxes and state fees by $750 million a year when he was governor.

Ryan also omitted some key facts as he hammered Obama for cutting $716 billion from projected Medicare spending over the next decade.

“Mitt Romney and I are going to stop that raid on Medicare,” Ryan said.

What Ryan left out, as Romney does when he attacks Obama on Medicare, is that none of Obama's Medicare cuts affect the benefits received by elderly and disabled patients covered by the popular healthcare program. Instead, the savings come mainly from reducing the government reimbursement rates paid to hospitals and other care providers.

On a day when Romney and his running mate stressed their pledge to balance the federal budget, Ryan also skirted the impact that restoration of the Medicare cuts would have on the Republican fiscal plan that he wrote, which the Republican-controlled House passed in April.

The plan calls for reaching a balanced budget by 2040. Restoration of the Medicare cuts would push that date years into the future.

Romney has endorsed the Ryan budget. But he has also set a more aggressive target for balancing the budget. In June, Romney told business leaders that he would try to get the budget balanced by 2022 – two years after he leaves office, if elected to a second term.

More recently, Romney has been promising to restore the $716 billion in Medicare cuts without saying how that would affect his timetable. Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said Romney has included the Medicare restorations in the budget plan that he released last year.

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michael.finnegan@latimes.com

mitchell.landsberg@latimes.com

Twitter: @finneganlatimes, @latlands

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