It depends on what the meaning of $1.7 billion is. One of the worst moments for Shannon O'Brien last night was when she accused Mitt Romney of claiming he'd get the feds to boost Medicaid payments to the state by some $1.7 billion. It was, she said, a perfect example of Romney's proclivity for pulling numbers out of thin air. Romney looked at her with that hang-dog expression of his and sorrowfully intoned that he had never, ever said any such thing; that the notion that he could somehow talk the federal government into forking over another $1.7 billion was ridiculous; and that it was just sad that she would make up such a ludicrous accusation.
Romney was utterly convincing. I was horrified, assuming that O'Brien's staff had made an egregious error and left the candidate with her mouth hanging open.
Well, now. Along comes the Phoenix's Seth Gitell today to show that O'Brien did, indeed, know what she was talking about -- that Romney really had suggested that he could come home with another $1.7 billion. O'Brien's team produced a Romney press release to that effect after the debate.
Then there's this, from a Stephanie Ebbert piece in the Globe on August 7:
He [Romney] also focused heavily on Massachusetts' low federal reimbursement rate of roughly 50 percent, saying Massachusetts needs to increase its share of federal funding. He suggested politics were at play and he could negotiate a better rate; a 77 percent reimbursement would raise $1.7 billion annually, he said.
Has Romney no shame?
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