Obama, Romney Accuse Each Other of Lying

Presidential campaign effectively devolves into name-calling.

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Both men running for president on Monday accused the other of being a liar. It's the culmination of ever-devolving campaign rhetoric when it comes to issues like welfare, Medicare and the economy.

Though both candidates have pledged to focus on the issues, the technology fueled, rapid campaign pace have given a desperate, November feel to the day-to-day campaigning.

President Barack Obama, making an appearance in the White House press briefing room for the first time in months, took aim at Republican rival Mitt Romney's newly launched advertisement claiming Obama 'gutted' the work requirement in welfare.

"On July 12, President Obama quietly ended the work requirement, gutting welfare reform," says an announcer in the advertisement. The voiceover adds that Mitt Romney's plan "will put work back in welfare."

This claim, based on the announcement by the Obama administration to allow states who wish to find alternative means of getting welfare recipients into the workforce to seek waivers, has been widely debunked by fact-checkers.

[Read: GOP brand hurt by 'legitimate rape' comment.]

"You have Gov. Romney creating as a centerpiece of his campaign this notion that we're taking the work requirement out of welfare, which every single person here who's looked at it says is patently false," Obama told reporters in the White House briefing room. "They can run the campaign they want but the truth of the matter is you can't just make stuff up."

Earlier on Monday, it was Romney calling Obama a liar when it came to his campaign's promotion of a study of Romney's tax plan that concluded it would result in higher taxes for middle-income families.

"It seems the first victim of the Obama campaign is the truth," Romney said during a campaign event. "Let me make this very clear—you know I signed a statement—I will not raise taxes on anybody. I don't want to raise taxes on the American people and this is a president who by the way has proposed raising the tax rate from 35 percent to 40 percent."

Campaign officials on both sides speculate the accelerated feel of the race is in part thanks to technology such as Twitter, which allows political reporters and junkies to learn about breaking news, digest and analyze it within minutes. But that rapid turnaround also comes at the expense of deep analysis by reporters, and the public, of the actual details of campaign proposals, says Julie Barnes, director of health policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

[Check out U.S. News Weekly: an insider's guide to politics and policy.]

"This is one of the reasons why it's difficult to talk about any health care reform—it's just complicated," Barnes says.

The campaign back-and-forth on the issue of Medicare is a prime example. Barnes says both sides are guilty of misrepresentation on the Medicare issue.

Romney, alongside his running mate, Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan, have taken aim at Obama's health care law that reduces Medicare spending by $716 billion.

"What President Obama will not tell you is his signature achievement, Obamacare, raids $716 billion from Medicare to pay for Obamacare," Ryan said. "What's more, he puts this new board of 15 unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats that he's going to appoint, who are required to cut Medicare every year in ways that will clearly lead to denied care for current seniors."

Ryan is the author of a controversial Republican budget that seeks to reduce federal spending and balance the budget in part by converting Medicare from a guaranteed program to a defined benefit system for future generations. Though it was widely speculated after his selection as Romney's vice presidential nominee that his Medicare plan would cost the campaign support among seniors, the Republicans have launched into attack mode.

[See pictures of Romney Vice Presidential pick Paul Ryan.]

The cuts made by Obama's heath care law are not from benefits to seniors, but rather payments to insurers and service providers like hospitals and Medicare Advantage, a program that outsources coverage to private insurers and generally costs more than regular Medicare. Ryan's plan, which Romney says he supports, preserves current benefits for those 55 years or older at this time, but would offer defined benefits—what Democrats call vouchers—to pay for coverage in the private market to future generations. But the rate of growth for the subsidy is far less than the current rate of growth in health care costs, leading to criticism from the left. Ryan's proposal would still allow those who wanted to enroll in Medicare.

Ryan also said the health care law, known as Obamacare, will use a 15-member unelected board to make annual cuts to Medicare "that will clearly lead to denied care for current seniors."

That's not true, Barnes says, as the law explicitly prevents cuts being made that would impact care.

Meanwhile, Democrats have tried to pound Ryan for "ending Medicare as we know it," though his proposal would not do so.

The problem for both sides is finding a way to preserve the beloved entitlement program while also addressing budget concerns.

"Yes, the federal budget is busting and Medicare is really at the top of the list of why," Barnes says, adding that it's not just Medicare that's the problem. "Health care spending is out of control. Our economy is in danger because of system-wide health care spending."

Rebekah Metzler is a political writer for U.S. News & World Report. You can contact her at rmetzler@usnews.com or follow her on Twitter.

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