Former White House press secretary and now Obama campaign adviser Robert Gibbs tries to change the subject when asked on today’s Morning Joe about this cycle’s most despicable ad — the one accusing Mitt Romney of causing the death of a wife of a laid-off steelworker. Never mind that Romney had left Bain years before GST shut down, and that Obama bundler Jonathan Lavine was actually a Bain managing director at that time. Never mind that the woman had her own health insurance through her own job, and never mind that the death occurred years after the layoff, let alone Romney’s departure from Bain. Robert Gibbs instead wanted Morning Joe to focus on how nasty Romney is … for criticizing Obama’s unilateral action on welfare.
Interestingly, the MSNBC panel wasn’t going to let Gibbs change the subject so easily:
“As everyone dusts off their white horse… let’s go through an ad we know the Romney campaign is entirely responsible for,” Gibbs said, pivoting to slam a new Romney campaign spot that charges the president gutted welfare reform work requirements. Gibbs said the ad untruthfully says the Obama administration has weakened the work requirements.
But panelists on “Morning Joe,” including former chairman of the Republican National Committee Michael Steele, said there’s a difference between debating policy and implicating responsibility for someone’s death. “It goes to a different level. It’s a different kind of conversation,” Steele said. “You have a visceral reaction to this ad. Is it or is it not below the belt?”
Gibbs didn’t answer.
“The message is a little over the top. Can’t you admit that?” Scarborough asked.
“I don’t know the specifics of this person’s case,” Gibbs said.
“What specifics would you like to know?” Time magazine’s Mark Halperin asked. Gibbs said he didn’t know the specifics of the woman’s health care coverage. It’s been reported Soptic’s wife had health care through another employer.
Gibbs’ defense didn’t impress the panel. Huffington Post’s Sam Stein notes the desperation that this attack represents:
If we are now going to calculate deaths on job and wealth destruction, Dan Mitchell is ready for that argument:
To make sure we’re being fair, we’ll first look at the research compiled by Cass Sunstein, who served as President Obama’s Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Writing back in 1997, he compiled 11 studiesfrom the late 1980s and early 1990s that estimated that a premature death was caused when income fell by some amount between $1.8 million and $12.4 million (roughly between $3.3 million and $22.9 million in today’s dollars).
There’s also a very thorough study by Ralph Keeney of the University of Southern California. He found that an additional fatality was linked to income losses (adjusted to today’s dollars) of between $8.42 million and $23.59 million.
Looking over much of this research, it appears that $14 million is a reasonable middle-ground estimate of how much foregone income is associated with a needless death.
Now let’s do some simple math to get an estimate of the total number of preventable deaths caused by the economy’s sub-par performance during Obama’s reign. Going by the lofty standards of Priorities USA super PAC, we’ll call this number the “Obamanomics Death Toll.”
So let’s divide $836.6 billion (our earlier estimate of foregone growth) by $14 million and we get an estimate that Obama’s policies have caused 59,757 deaths.
Mitchell calls the entire exercise “absurd,” which it is. However, this ad’s absurdity shows just how desperate Obama and his allies have become.