August 9, 2012 -- Two campaign ads have drawn fire for their questionable veracity this week, but no one's backing away from the attacks they lodge.
The pro-Obama super PAC Priorities USA Action caught flak for its ad featuring a steelworker who said his wife lost health coverage and died shortly after his plant closed under Bain Capital's ownership. FactCheck.org found the ad to be misleading because Joe Soptic's wife, Ranae, had lost coverage at least a year after the plant's closing and died five years after its closing.
But Priorities USA Action has no plans to pull the ad, and Bill Burton, a former Obama aide who now heads the group, defended it in a contentious interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday night.
"The point of this ad is that, you know, it's to tell the story of one guy, Joe Soptic, and the impact on his life that happened for years, and to this day, as a result of decisions that Mitt Romney made," Burton said, asserting that he "absolutely" stands by the ad and that it does not suggest Romney was directly responsible for the woman's death.
Mitt Romney's presidential campaign and the Republican National Committee, meanwhile, have lobbed their own dubious accusations in a TV ad about President Obama's purported welfare plan.
According to the ad, Obama announced a plan to "gut welfare reform" signed by President Clinton in 1996 and that "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."
That's a gross exaggeration of what the administration has said it will do. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it would waive "work requirements" -- state quotas for welfare recipients' participation in job-training, job searches and other programs -- if states had better ideas, to be tested under HHS-approved "pilot programs."
The administration does not expect pilot programs to affect states' entire pools of welfare recipients. States must prove a 20 percent improvement of welfare recipients' finding jobs under these programs, and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has said she will not approve any programs that "weaken" job requirements -- even as HHS suggested states could propose being evaluated on other metrics "in lieu of" those requirements.
Nonetheless, the Republican National Committee held a conference call with Rick Santorum today amplifying the welfare noise.
"What the president has done is turn back the clock and do what he has done with every single entitlement plan in this country, which is increase the number of people who are on it, increase dependency, increase the taxpayer bill without the resulting impact of improving prospects of people to be economically successful in this country," Santorum told reporters.
Santorum also accused Obama of wanting to "transfer wealth" through welfare.
"We see it here on this issue of another entitlement program that Obama wants to expand, weaken and make it more available for the American people to transfer wealth, in this case, without any responsibility to work as a result of that wealth transfer," Santorum said.
Despite the fact that no changes have yet been made to state welfare programs under the newly announced openness to granting waivers, Santorum said the ad does not go too far.
"I think clearly the president is moving in that direction," Santorum said. "Look, I think this is a political move -- targeting people to say, Look, if you elect me, we will not have these work requirements ... you will not have to do that anymore."