I'm a big fan of whiteboards. The White House has an online whiteboard series and I'm probably one of at least six people nationwide who actually watches and enjoys them.
So when Mitt Romney broke out a whiteboard to talk about Medicare today, I was actually quite pleased. I'm sure he'll get teased for this, but not by me -- at least not for the concept. The substance, however, is another matter.
For those who can't watch clips online, Romney drew a little chart on his whiteboard, showing President Obama's Medicare plan vs. his own for current retirees, and then for future retirees. Romney then made his pitch: for current retirees, he argues, there will be "no change" under his plan, while under Obama's policy, there will be, among other things, $716 billion in cuts.
For future retirees, Romney added, under Obama's policy, the Medicare system will be "bankrupt," while under the Romney plan, the system will be "solvent."
Let's put it this way: if there's a whiteboard code of honor, Romney just shredded it. I'm delighted he thought to use the medium, but this summary is so ridiculously dishonest, Romney has tarnished the very idea of whiteboard lessons.
This really isn't complicated. Under Romney's plan, there's "no change" for current retirees? That's completely wrong -- Romney's plan, which includes destroying the Affordable Care Act and gutting Medicaid, would necessarily lead to higher prescription drug costs for seniors and more expensive preventive care.
Under Obama's plan, the "cuts" are to unnecessary spending -- it's why Republicans adopted the same cuts in the budget plan that Romney endorsed.
As for the system's financial health, the Obama Medicare savings that Romney is condemning (after supporting them) makes the Medicare system more secure, not less. Romney isn't just lying, his claims are the polar opposite of the facts.
On the other hand, now that Romney is forcefully committed to spending more on Medicare, he's inadvertently endorsed a policy that hastens Medicare's fiscal demise. "Instead of running out of money in 2024, Medicare says its trust fund for inpatient care would go broke in 2016 without the cuts," the AP explained today. "That could leave a President Romney little political breathing room to finalize his own Medicare plan."
Everything Romney said today with his whiteboard was wrong, predicated on the notion that Americans are fools who won't know the difference.
Postscript:Yes, some clever folks already put together Romney's Whiteboard on Tumblr.
Update: The Obama campaign put together a corrected version of the same whiteboard.