One of the strongest elements of Mitt Romney's spectacular debate performance was his decisive rejoinder to the president's oft-repeated allegation that the Republican plans to raise taxes on middle class families. Obama said Romney has designs on an unpaid-for $5 trillion tax cut that would eventually necessitate higher tax bills for average Americans. Romney flatly rejected the claim by calling it false, then explained what he actually has in mind. But the president returned to the "$5 trillion" well on several subsequent occasions, prompting more rebuttals from his challenger. FactCheck.org and CNN reviewed Obama's accusation, and found it wanting. "Not true," declared the former organization. As for the cable news channel, well, just watch this:
Mary Katharine Ham provides a partial transcript:
BURNETT: Stephanie, let me ask you about that. Because here at CNN, we fact checked that, that $5 trillion in tax cuts and we’ve come and said that’s not true. Mitt Romney has not promised that. because he’s also going to be closing loopholes and deductions. So his tax cut wouldn’t be anywhere near that size.
CUTTER: So you’re disputing the size of the tax cut? Or are you disputing also how he’s going to pay for it?
BURNETT: We’re disputing the size.
CUTTER: Erin, he has campaigned on lowering tax rates by 20% for everybody, including those in the top 1%. that was one of the main selling points in the Republican primary.
BURNETT: So you’re saying if you lower them by 20% you get a $5 trillion tab, right?
CUTTER: It’s a $5 trillion tab.
BURNETT: But when he closes deductions he won’t be anywhere near $5 trillion. That’s our analysis.
CUTTER: Well with, okay, stipulated, it won’t be near $5 trillion, but it’s also not going to be the sum of $5 trillion in the loopholes that he’s going to close.
Well, well, well. One of the few on-message attacks Obama launched against Romney on Wednesday night was this $5 trillion line, which has since been refuted by fact-checkers -- whose verdicts, you'll recall, the Obama campaign take "very, very seriously." But under intense questioning, even one of Chicago's most skilled liars was forced to admit that the claim is wrong. Will Obama continue trotting it out anyway? Of course he will. His campaign is still running ads hitting Romney on "outsourcing," an attack fact-checkers dismantled ("no evidence") months ago. Why is Obama obstinately promoting false narratives? I'll let a promising young politician explain the cycnical ploy: