Mitt’s new dumb lie

Romney puts words in Obama's mouth with his "secretary of business" attacks -- and sticks them in a TV ad

Topics: Mitt Romney, Government, Presidential Elections, Election 2012,

Mitt's new dumb lie (Credit: Commerce Department building in Washington, D.C.)

Remember when Mitt Romney took an Obama quote out of context and then built his national convention around it? Well, this is worse.

Here’s the campaign’s new attack line: Obama said something that shows how much he loves bureaucracy and doesn’t understand business. “[Obama] wants to create a new ‘secretary of business,’” vice-presidential nominee Paul Ryan said on the stump in Colorado yesterday. “We already have a secretary of business. It’s actually called secretary of commerce. That’s what this agency does. Let me ask you a question: Can anybody name our current secretary of commerce? You know why? We don’t have one! It’s been vacant for over four months.”

“I don’t think adding a new chair in his cabinet will help add millions of jobs on Main Street,” Romney himself added in Virginia later in the day.

Two things: First, we do have a secretary of commerce, or at least an acting secretary. Acting Secretary Rebecca Blank stepped in this summer after former Commerce Secretary John Bryson suffered a seizure while driving in California and resigned. (She’s not Senate-confirmed, but we don’t think that’s what Ryan meant.)

Second, and more to the point, the whole point of Obama’s “secretary of business idea” is to consolidate the Commerce Department with a bunch of other agencies that deal with business to make them more efficient and easier for businesses to interact with. “We should have one secretary of business, instead of nine different departments that are dealing with things like giving loans to SBA or helping companies with exports. There should be a one-stop shop,” Obama told MSNBC Monday. He actually first floated the idea in January, when it was received as a pragmatic, if not particularly inspired, reform idea.

And it’s an idea that you would think Republicans would support. Contrary to Romney’s claim, it actually would not be a new chair in the Cabinet, but merely the renaming of an existing one (though a new plaque would be required on the chair). The idea is to streamline government, cutting costs for taxpayers and making it easier for businesses to deal with government — two things Republicans really like. Instead, they went on the attack.

But wait, there’s more. Romney and Ryan are not only misrepresenting the “secretary of business” idea on the stump. They’re actually running a TV ad based on this dumb lie, which they released yesterday. The ad, titled “Secretary of Business,” claims that Obama’s “solution to everything is to add another bureaucrat.”

There’s really no honest way to read Obama’s comments and think he said he wanted to “add another bureaucrat.” His entire statement was about the need to consolidate bureaucracy, not expand it.  Saying otherwise is dishonest, and maybe a bit desperate.

Alex Seitz-Wald

Alex Seitz-Wald is Salon's political reporter. Email him at, and follow him on Twitter @aseitzwald.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 17
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails
    John Stanmeyer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Container City: Shipping containers, indispensable tool of the globalized consumer economy, reflect the skyline in Singapore, one of the world’s busiest ports.

    Lu Guang

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Man Covering His Mouth: A shepherd by the Yellow River cannot stand the smell, Inner Mongolia, China

    Carolyn Cole/LATimes

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Angry Crowd: People jostle for food relief distribution following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti

    Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    “Black Friday” Shoppers: Aggressive bargain hunters push through the front doors of the Boise Towne Square mall as they are opened at 1 a.m. Friday, Nov. 24, 2007, Boise, Idaho, USA

    Google Earth/NOAA, U.S. Navy, NGA, GEBCO

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Suburban Sprawl: aerial view of landscape outside Miami, Florida, shows 13 golf courses amongst track homes on the edge of the Everglades.

    Garth Lentz

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Toxic Landscape: Aerial view of the tar sands region, where mining operations and tailings ponds are so vast they can be seen from outer space; Alberta, Canada

    Cotton Coulson/Keenpress

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Ice Waterfall: In both the Arctic and Antarctic regions, ice is retreating. Melting water on icecap, North East Land, Svalbard, Norway

    Yann Arthus-Bertrand

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Satellite Dishes: The rooftops of Aleppo, Syria, one of the world’s oldest cities, are covered with satellite dishes, linking residents to a globalized consumer culture.

    Stephanie Sinclair

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Child Brides: Tahani, 8, is seen with her husband Majed, 27, and her former classmate Ghada, 8, and her husband in Hajjah, Yemen, July 26, 2010.

    Mike Hedge

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Megalopolis: Shanghai, China, a sprawling megacity of 24 Million

    Google Earth/ 2014 Digital Globe

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Big Hole: The Mir Mine in Russia is the world’s largest diamond mine.

    Daniel Dancer

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Clear-cut: Industrial forestry degrading public lands, Willamette National Forest, Oregon

    Peter Essick

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Computer Dump: Massive quantities of waste from obsolete computers and other electronics are typically shipped to the developing world for sorting and/or disposal. Photo from Accra, Ghana.

    Daniel Beltra

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Oil Spill Fire: Aerial view of an oil fire following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gulf of Mexico

    Ian Wylie

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Slide 13

    Airplane Contrails: Globalized transportation networks, especially commercial aviation, are a major contributor of air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. Photo of contrails in the west London sky over the River Thames, London, England.

    R.J. Sangosti/Denver Post

    Overdevelopment, Overpopulation, Overshoot

    Fire: More frequent and more intense wildfires (such as this one in Colorado, USA) are another consequence of a warming planet.

  • Recent Slide Shows



Comment Preview

Your name will appear as username ( settings | log out )

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href=""> <b> <em> <strong> <i> <blockquote>