Saturday, September 1, 2012

Truth Team: How Low Can You Go?

    For an organization that practically buries the bar to begin with, the Obama Truth Team sent out a particularly low and petty tweet about Mitt Romney during the final night of the GOP convention.  It appears to be a direct response to the stories told by various speakers about the compassionate Mitt Romney they had come to know over the years.  If you read between the lines, you can almost hear a sneering, "Oh, yeah?  Well, get this!":

    The link is to a page documenting the fiscal year 2004 budget for the State of Massachusetts when Romney was governor.  In order to find what the Truth Team is referring to, one must find the right link on the page and download a Word file.  Buried among a host of vetoed items totaling $52,571,883 is this:

...provided further, that not less than $99,000 shall be expended on Special Olympics Massachusetts for the purpose of "unified sports"; provided further, that an additional $304,000 shall be expended on a contract with Work, Inc., for enhanced or expanded services to clients; and provided further, that not less than $500,000 shall be expended for Best Buddies Massachusetts

    Indeed, $99,000 for the Special Olympics was among the vetoed items.  Politifact, known for finding Obama claims as "True" if they are wildly misleading yet technically correct, would probably leave it right there.  (If the Romney campaign made a similar claim about Obama, Politifact would generously provide the "implication" of the statement and Romney would be lucky to end up with a "Half True".)
    But let's provide some Politifact-like context: Digging a little deeper, and downloading another Word file, one finds the explanation provided by Governor Romney for his veto:
I am striking language which earmarks funding for programs because it inappropriately imposes Legislative controls on Executive Branch management decisions.
    So rather than targeting the Special Olympics, Romney simply believed that earmarking funds for the Special Olympics and other organizations was an attempt by legislators to make executive branch decisions.  The $99,000 cut this portion of the budget (known in the current Massachusetts budget as 5920-2000-Community Residential Services for the Developmentally Disabled) to a paltry... $448,617,888.  Yes, a little under half a billion dollars.  Something tells me that it's possible the state of Massachusetts might have been able to find some funds for the Special Olympics after all.
    The point of the Truth Team was to belittle Romney and paint him as a heartless jerk who would take money from handicapped kids (particularly ironic given Barack Obama's unfortunate unscripted comments about the Special Olympics in 2009.)  The cut amounted to $99,000, or .02% of the department's budget.  But are there other sources of information about Romney, money, and kids?  How about those tax returns the Democrats keep demanding to see?  A quick look at the 2011 preliminary return that Romney already released shows that in 2011, Romney donated $500,000 to the Tyler Foundation.  Its mission?

Providing financial support to families' of children with epilepsy that are being treated at Children's Hospital Boston and UMass Memorial Children's Medical Center.
     In one year, Romney gave half a million dollars to help support families' of children with epilepsy.  And when I say he "gave", I don't mean he directed the government to do it.  He gave his personal funds for the cause.  Who knows what else those unreleased tax returns might reveal about Romney's undermining of the nanny state by these subversive gifts?  The Obama campaign might want to reconsider its demands.
    And what of the Special Olympics?  I can find no direct connection between Mitt Romney and the Special Olympics, but as has been pointed out, much to the annoyance of Rachel Maddow, the Romneys give heavily to the Mormon church.  And a search for "Special Olympics" at the website of the Mormon church returns 473 hits. (Personally the Mormons and I part ways theologically on a host of issues, but it appears helping the less fortunate is an area in which they excel.)  So maybe Romney made up that $99,000 in taxpayer money some other way, eh?

    As this 2012 campaign has progressed, the Obama campaign has sharpened its personal attacks on Mitt Romney.  The addition of Paul Ryan to the ticket has only exacerbated the situation.  I would like to think that dragging the Special Olympics into the fray will be the low point, but there are still two months left.  What will be the Obama campaign's next maneuver in its game of political limbo? 

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