GOP Debate Features Right-Wing Economic Illiteracy

October 12, 2011 9:20 am ET — Kate Conway

Bloomberg/Washington Post GOP debate

For a change of pace, last night's GOP presidential primary debate focused almost entirely on the economy, giving some of the eight participating candidates an opportunity to explain their proposals but for the most part exposing gaps in their preparedness and understanding of how the economy functions.

Mitt Romney and Herman Cain took shots at one another's plans, with Cain deriding Romney's 159-page proposal on its size rather than its merits. Romney countered with a dig at Cain's 9-9-9 plan saying, "I must admit that simple answers are always very helpful, but oftentimes inadequate." Gov. Rick Perry (R-TX), on the other hand, didn't really have a plan to offer, mumbling something about stimulating the economy by developing American energy production. Neither did Rick Santorum, who continued to insist that the "breakdown of the American family" is at the root of poverty and economic dysfunction.

Despite the theme of the debate, however, participants weren't shy about veering off topic to repeat a number of right-wing falsehoods from across the issue spectrum. Newt Gingrich revived a classic (and a PolitiFact Lie of the Year), insisting that there is truth behind the "death panels" smear of the Affordable Care Act. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) joined in the health care reform lies, claiming that President Obama "plans for Medicare to collapse and instead everyone will be pushed into Obamacare." Of course, it's Republicans who have, time and again, introduced plans that would dismantle the Medicare system — something the Affordable Care Act doesn't do.

Later, trying to separate his legacy in creating Massachusetts' health care system from the similar Affordable Care Act, Mitt Romney falsely stated that the federal law "takes over health care for everyone" — another PolitiFact Lie of the Year. Even Jon Huntsman got his foot in the health care misinformation door, claiming that thousands of new IRS agents will be employed to administer the universal mandate, a claim that was debunked years ago.

Romney and Cain also pandered to their right-wing base on the topic of Wall Street reform and the recession, with Romney categorically condemning "bailouts of individual institutions" (even though he's on record supporting TARP) yet also hypocritically insisting that "you have to take action very carefully to make sure that you preserve our currency and preserve our financial system." Cain, asked about his prior comments on the Occupy Wall Street protesters, denied that Wall Street had any role in creating the economic troubles, saying that they should be protesting "against the failed policies of this administration, not Wall Street."

Romney rounded out his falsehoods by misrepresenting the National Labor Relations Board's complaint against Boeing, falsely suggesting that the agency simply told Boeing, "You can't build a factory in a non-union state." And Perry snuck in one more example of why his presidency would be chock full of bad policies when he reiterated his support for block granting Medicaid, which would harm the most vulnerable citizens of his state and others.

Watch highlights from the debate below the fold.

Gingrich: "Death Panels" Are Real And "Palin Got Attacked Unfairly" For Saying So

Mitt Romney Simultaneously Decries "Bailouts Of Individual Institutions" And Makes The Case For Bailouts

Rep. Bachmann: "President Obama Plans For Medicare To Collapse" To Push Everyone Into Obamacare

Jon Huntsman Repeats Health Care Reform "IRS Agents" Falsehood Two Years After It Was Debunked

Romney Regurgitates False Right-Wing Claim That NLRB Told Boeing, "You Can't Build A Factory In A Non-Union State"

Cain: Wall Street Protesters Should Be Protesting Government Instead Of Banks

Santorum: "The Biggest Problem With Poverty In America ... Is The Breakdown Of The American Family"

Mitt Romney: Health Care Reform "Takes Over Health Care For Everyone."

Gov. Perry Reiterates Support For Turning Medicaid Into Block Grants