A version of this column appeared originally in THE DAILY BEAST.
Both presidential candidates describe this election as the most important choice in a generation and insist that the outcome will fatefully shape the direction of government and society.
But voters can’t make a meaningful decision when the discussion during the last month of the campaign (and, undoubtedly, much of the televised debate on Wednesday night) will be based on shameless, embarrassing lies.
Those lies flow most egregiously (but not exclusively) from the President of the United States.
Every day Barack Obama frames the electoral decision as a stark choice between his warm-hearted, communitarian approach of “we’re all in this together” and the cold-hearted Republican philosophy of “you’re on your own.”
But Romney’s call for reduced federal spending hardly requires the brutal cuts in support for Alzheimer’s patients and disabled children so frequently cited by partisan Democrats. The Romney-Ryan platform calls for gradually implemented spending caps that would trim the overall federal budget from 24 percent of GDP down to 20 percent of GDP – still sanctioning spending levels above the 65 year postwar average, and well above the levels that applied during the fondly-remembered Clinton administration. In 2000, his last full year in office, the sainted Slick Willy brought federal spending down to less than 18 percent but no Democrats claimed that this amounted to a callous, devastating “you’re on your own” reign of terror.
Has the sharply increased spending since that time (under President Bush and even more dramatically under President Obama) actually provided so many indispensable, additional services for the American people?
Moreover, it’s not even vaguely true that Romney plans to “raise taxes on the middle class to give new tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires” as the president regularly claims. The Republican nominee has repeatedly pledged he will never increase tax burdens on the middle class, and he signals that it is precisely the same wealthy taxpayers the president targets who will bear the brunt of the loophole closures he means to implement.