THE BIGGEST DAMNED LIE: Romney-Ryan Campaign Ad Says Pres. Obama Took Work Out Of Welfare

This week’s winner of The Biggest Damned Lie is the Romney-Ryan campaign. The Romney-Ryan campaign has released an ad saying that President Obama is gutting welfare reform by dropping work requirements.

MR. MARTIN:   Welcome back.

It’s time now for …


MR. MARTIN:  The Democratic National Convention had its share of exaggerations, embellishments, stretching of the truth and favorable manipulation of stats.  But this ad from the Romney-Ryan campaign – a new ad – puts all of that Democratic fibbing to shame.


VOICEOVER:  In 1996, Pres. Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it by requiring work for welfare.  But on July 12th, Pres. Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.  Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job.  They just send you your welfare check, and welfare-to-work goes back to being plain old welfare.


MR. MARTIN:  Now, normally I take the folks to task in “The Biggest Damn Lie,” but this week, Pres. Bill Clinton, you get the honors.


PRES. BILL CLINTON:  Republican governors asked if they could have waivers to try new ways to put people on welfare back to work, and the Administration agreed to give waivers to those governors and others only if they had a credible plan to increase employment by 20 percent.  And they could keep the waivers only if they did increase employment.  Now, did – did I make myself clear?  The requirement was for more work – not less.

I am telling you the claim that Pres. Obama weakened welfare reform’s work requirement is just not true.


PRES. CLINTON:  But they keep on running ads claiming it.


PRES. CLINTON:  You wanna know why?  Their campaign pollster said, “We are not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”



MR. MARTIN:  So, Mitt Romney, you brought this week’s …


MR. MARTIN:  All right, Armstrong.  You believe the ad is true.  The facts do not agree with you, so please –


MR. MARTIN:  — explain the optional fact.


MR. WILLIAMS:  Well, you know, I act- — I’ve written this in columns and talked about this on TV, and I understand what fa- — Pres. Clinton has said.  But in my research and even talking to people around different states that are involved with this relfa- — welfare reform, they have said that the requirements of going back to work [have] been drastically reduced or relaxed.  So, while they may have manipulated the ad, I have found in my own research that some of this – there are some facts that are involved here.

MR. MARTIN:  Okay.  Have –

MR. LEON:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — Republican governors requested the waiver?

MR. WILLIAMS:  That is also true.

MR. MARTIN:  Okay?

MR. WILLIAMS:  They’re just as much as –

MR. MARTIN:  Didn’t —

MR. WILLIAMS:  — guilty as –

MR. MARTIN:  — didn’t –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — the White House.

MR. MARTIN:  — no.  But didn’t Rick Santorum stand up there at the Republican National Convention and say, “That’s not in the law!  I’m the one who wrote it!”?

So, what in the world are these Republican governors requesting, then?

MR. WILLIAMS:  Uh, an end to, uh – well, you know what?  It’s – it’s politics.  Look –

MR. MARTIN:  Hell.  I just –

MS. WALSH:  [Crosstalk] –


MR. MARTIN:  — heard three “uhs.”

OFF CAMERA:  No.  No, no.

MR. MARTIN:  Come on.  Which one –

MS. WALSH:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — which one is it?  Ei- – ei- –


MR. MARTIN:  — either –

MS. WALSH:  — it’s – it’s fact.

MR. MARTIN:  — you can do a waiver, or you can’t request a waiver.  Which one –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — well, there – th- —

MS. WALSH:  Either you’re increasing work requirements, or you’re not increasing work –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — well, they’re –

MS. WALSH:  — requirements.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — incr- — they’re not increasing work requ- —

MS. WALSH:  Yes, they are.  They have to increase their – their work rolls by –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — but that has –

MS. WALSH:  — 20 –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — not happened.

MS. WALSH:  — percent.

MR. WILLIAMS:  But it has not happened.

MS. WALSH:  Well, then, they’ll lose the waiver.

MR. LEON:  Well, that’s a different –

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. LEON:  — issue.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — that’s right.

MS. WALSH:  But this is –

MR. WILLIAMS:  That’s right.

MS. WALSH:  — all about –

MR. LEON:  That’s a different –

MS. WALSH:  — you know –

MR. LEON:  — issue.

MS. WALSH:  — this –

MR. LEON:  Whether it’s happened –

MS. WALSH:  — this –

MR. LEON:  — or not is different from what the –

MR. WILLIAMS:  Absolutely.

MR. LEON:  — requirement is.

MS. WALSH:  — this is what –


MR. MARTIN:  Joan?

MS. WALSH:  — this is –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — and[?] –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — right.

MR. MARTIN:  Joan?

MS. WALSH:  — what Republicans do that really bothers me.  They walk away from their own ideas when Democrats adopt them, and so in this case, the idea that a state governor is going to be more s- — intelligent about how to get his people to work, or her people to work, is a Republican idea.  The flexibility to give the states the way – the –

MR. CLEMONS:  It – it’s just –

MS. WALSH: — the right to –

MR. CLEMONS:  — like Pres. –

MS. WALSH:  — innovate.

MR. CLEMONS:  — Clinton when he referred to Paul Ryan’s views on Medicare –

MS. WALSH:  — right.

MR. CLEMONS:  — saying that Paul Ryan put out the $719 billion savings in the Paul Ryan [budget], and he says, you know, “it takes a lot of brass” to go after and attack somebody for doing what you did.

MS. WALSH:  It takes a lot of brass.

MR. CLEMONS:  And – and –

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Crosstalk]- —

MR. CLEMONS:  — and to some degree, that plan was what the Republican governors asked Bill Clinton to put in –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — absolutely!

MR. CLEMONS:  — and – and –

MR. WILLIAMS:  No question –

MR. CLEMONS:  — what Arms- —

MR. WILLIAMS:  — about that.

MR. CLEMONS:  — Armstrong may be talking about is the practice or the feel of it; but technically, that – that increase in work requirement is what technically allows that.  So, what – there may be a – a discussion –

MR. WILLIAMS:  There’s a – [crosstalk] –

MR. CLEMONS:  — here of intensity, but –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — right.

MR. CLEMONS:  — when it comes to the law and the facts of what that welfare reform legislation was about, is – I think Bill Clinton is –

MS. WALSH:  And the –

MR. CLEMONS:  — right –

MR. LEON:  What that –

MS. WALSH:  — line in that –

MR. CLEMONS:  — on target.

MR. LEON:  — ad – what that ad says is wrong.


MR. CLEMONS:  Right.

MR. LEON:  It is a lie.

MR. WILLIAMS:  No, it’s misleading.

MR. LEON:  And I –

MS. WALSH:  No!  It’s –

MR. LEON:  — no, it’s –

MS. WALSH:  — a lie.

MR. LEON:  — wrong.

MR. WILLIAMS:  I would say –


MR. LEON:  It’s wrong –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — I would say it’s misleading.


MR. MARTIN:  [Crosstalk] – now, Armstrong –

MR. LEON:  It’s wrong.

MR. MARTIN:  — Armstrong, we’re not gonna –

MR. LEON:  It’s wrong!

MR. MARTIN:  — play – hold up.

MS. WALSH:  It says – [crosstalk].


MR. MARTIN:  We are not –

MR. LEON:  It’s a lie!

MR. MARTIN:  — one second.  We’re not gonna play that Wa- — that – that Washington, D.C. game.  You are from South Carolina.

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  Yo’ momma and daddy told you growin’ up, “Son, that’s a lie.  If you lie to me, I’mma beat yo’ behind.”  They didn’t say, “Son, if you” –

MR. LEON:  It’s “misleading.”

MR. MARTIN:  — “mischaracterize,” or you “mislead.”

MR. LEON:  [Chuckles.]

MS. WALSH:  [Crosstalk] – misleading.

MR. MARTIN:  Now, you know –

MR. LEON:  Misrepresenting –

MR. MARTIN:  — doggone well

MR. LEON:  — the facts.

MR. MARTIN:  — my daddy watchin’ right now, sayin’, “Lie to me, I’mma whup yo’ behind.”



MR. WILLIAMS:  — fabricated the truth.

MR. MARTIN:  — oh, there you go again!


MR. MARTIN:  Joan, go ahead.  I’m sorry.  I don’t –

OFF CAMERA:  It’s a lie[?].

MR. MARTIN:  — go ahead.

MS. WALSH:  That ad literally said that it “did away with” the work –


MS. WALSH:  — requirement and made it “plain ol’ welfare.”  And we also know that “plain ol’ welfare” is code for something that was talked about in the ’60s and ’70s, with “welfare queens” and “young bucks” buying T-bone steaks with their food stamps.

MR. MARTIN:  Even –

MS. WALSH:  So –

MR. MARTIN:  — even though we know that right now in America, there’re more Whites on –

MS. WALSH:  Many more.

MR. MARTIN:  — welfare –

MS. WALSH:  There always have been.

MR. MARTIN:  — than any other group.


MR. LEON:  One of the things that was a consistent theme throughout the Republican convention was “leadership.”  Romney talked about “leadership.”  Ryan talked about “leadership.”  And I just published a piece called “Liars Don’t Lead.  They Mislead.”  And what we have heard consistently on a number of levels throughout the Republican convention – a pack of lies.


MR. MARTIN:  [Crosstalk] – now –

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Croosstalk] – this is – this is –

MR. MARTIN:  — here’s the deal.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  Okay, Armstrong.  I’mma give you the last comment on this –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — okay.

MR. MARTIN:  — here, but if you –

MR. WILLIAMS:  All I wanna say –

MR. MARTIN:  — lie –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — I’m not go- —

MR. MARTIN:  — I’m –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — it’s – [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — I’mma do what yo’ daddy –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — did to ya.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — you know what?  I’m – I’m –

MS. WALSH:  [Chuckles.]

MR. WILLIAMS:  — I’m gonna concede this.  And it’s no different than the lies that were –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold!  Hold!

MR. WILLIAMS:  — told –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold!  Stop!  Stop!

MR. WILLIAMS:  — well, let me finish.

MR. MARTIN:  Stop.  Stop.

MR. WILLIAMS:  Le- — lemme –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold up!


MR. MARTIN:  Hold up.  Hold – I – I need you –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — [chuckles] – let me finish!  Let me finish!

MR. MARTIN:  — I need you to get –

MR. LEON:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — I need a wi-i-ide shot.

MR. LEON:  [Chuckles.]

MR. WILLIAMS:  Wait a minute.  [Crosstalk]- —

MR. MARTIN:  And we all –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — [crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  — Armstrong, repeat that again?

MR. WILLIAMS:  — look.  Look.

MR. CLEMONS:  [Crosstalk] – equal-time lie on this.

MR. WILLIAMS:  Everything here is about integrity.  It’s no different than the way the Obama campaign lied about Bain Capital.

MR. MARTIN:  Hold up!

MR. WILLIAMS:  It’s all –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold – now –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — the same.

MR. MARTIN:  — [crosstalk] – hold up!

MR. WILLIAMS:  They all do it!

MR. MARTIN:  Do- — don’t change the topic!

MR. WILLIAMS:  They all do it!


MR. CLEMONS:  [Crosstalk] –

MR. MARTIN:  Hold on.  Hold on, Steve.  I gotta get this.  Did you –

MR. WILLIAMS:  I conceded –

MR. MARTIN:  — just say –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — [chuckles] – that was a lie!

MR. MARTIN:  [Slams the desk.]  All right!


MR. MARTIN:  See?  I just wanna make sure –

MR. LEON:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  — we got that!

MR. WILLIAMS:  Yeah, that –

MS. WALSH:  Our work –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — was a lie.

MS. WALSH:  — is done.



MR. LEON:  Look at what it took to get

MR. MARTIN:  Steve –

MR. LEON:  — it.

MR. MARTIN:  — go ahead.

MR. CLEMONS:  [Crosstalk] – put on the –

MR. MARTIN:  [Chuckles.]

MR. CLEMONS:  — table that will –

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. CLEMONS:  — make many of my progressive and Democratic friends upset. The big lie, I felt – even though I was in that stadium, and everybody was cheering – but, you know, you’re not getting real America when you’re in one of these convention centers.  You’re getting a slice of people who want to believe.  And technically – and there’re many of us writers, there’re people – [unintelligible] – “Financial Times” – technically, Americans are not better off than they were four years ago.  Yes, four years ago, the economy was in free fall.  Yes, jobs were hemorrhaging like crazy.  But when you look at mortgages, you look at what’s happened [with] the jobless rate, when you look at the real unemployment rate and[?] what’s out there, we are, as a nation, in the aggregate, not better off.

Do I blame Barack Obama for that?  No.

MR. MARTIN:  President Barack Obama.

MR. CLEMONS:  But I want to say –

MR. MARTIN:  President Barack Obama.

MR. CLEMONS:  — President Barack Obama.  [Pats his chest where his pocket square should be.]  Two strikes against me here that –

MR. MARTIN:  It’s all good.

MS. WALSH:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. CLEMONS:  — but – but my point is that I understand why people want to believe that and say that, but that assertion is technically wrong.

MR. MARTIN:  Let me say thi- —


MR. MARTIN:  — let me say this here.  [Crosstalk] –

MR. WILLIAMS:  It’s about the –

MR. LEON:  I would – I would debate that.

MR. WILLIAMS:  — economy.

MR. MARTIN:  — let – let –

MR. WILLIAMS:  It is about –

MR. MARTIN:  — let –

MR. WILLIAMS:  — the economy, which you’re not –


MR. WILLIAMS:  — talking about.

MR. CLEMONS:  But it is a fact – [crosstalk] –

MR. WILLIAMS:  That’s Obama’s problem – is the economy.


MR. LEON:  [Chuckles.]

MR. MARTIN:  First of all –


MR. MARTIN:  — first of all, I got Hi- — I got the Labor Secretary talking about jobs.  I got a panel breaking down the jobs deal.  Okay.

MR. WILLIAMS:  All right.  All right.

MR. MARTIN:  We’re talking the economy.

MR. WILLIAMS:  All right.

MR. MARTIN:  What are you talkin’ about?  But let m- —

MR. WILLIAMS:  All right.

MR. MARTIN:  — but let me say this.  On that point –


MR. MARTIN:  — here’s the deal.  Four years ago, we were basically flat-lined, trying to get the f- — the – the pump to get our heart –

MR. CLEMONS:  I agree.

MR. MARTIN:  — started pumping.  We’re in ICU now.  If you’re in ICU –

MR. LEON:  You’re better than dead.

MR. MARTIN:  — and you were almost –

MS. WALSH:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. MARTIN:  — dead –

MR. LEON:  You’re better than –

MR. MARTIN:  — you say –

MR. LEON:  — dead.

MR. MARTIN:  — “I’m better off today” –

MR. LEON:  Absolutely.

MR. MARTIN:  — “than I was” –


MR. MARTIN:  — “almost dead.”

MR. WILLIAMS:  No way!


MR. CLEMONS:  There’re a lot of Americans –

MR. LEON:  Absolutely.

MR. CLEMONS:  — that are not – [crosstalk].

MR. MARTIN:  I – I – no, understand that.

MR. LEON:  Oh.  And not – and not –

MR. MARTIN:  But I’ll say –

MR. LEON:  — every American is.

MR. MARTIN:  — this here.  I believe you’re a better nation when you’re adding job than losing 500,000 –

MR. WILLIAMS:  We’re not adding jobs.

MR. MARTIN:  — a month.

MR. LEON:  Losing –

MS. WALSH:  We are –

MR. LEON:  — losing 700- —

MS. WALSH:  — we are adding jobs.

MR. WILLIAMS:  [Crosstalk.]

MR. MARTIN:  Oh, come on!

MR. LEON:  — losing 700,000 –

MR. MARTIN:  Joan, Armstrong —

MR. MARTIN:  — Wilmer –

MR. LEON:  — jobs –

MR. MARTIN:  — Steve, I appreciate it – but he conceded.

You know that’s a lie!


MR. WILLIAMS:  Oh!  I can’t –

MR. MARTIN:  Y’all stick –

MR. WILLIAMS: — win!

MR. MARTIN:  — around.

We’ll talk later in the show about your new book What’s the Matter with White People?


MR. MARTIN:  The next one’s What’s the Matter with Armstrong?