Amid complaints on the right about missing context in the leaked video of a Mitt Romney fundraiser, the RNC released a new video containing three deceptively edited clips of President Obama.
The new video, “Redistribution II,” focuses on the party’s recent message that the president believes “redistributing wealth creates prosperity.”
Obama’s first appearance in the video is an egregiously chopped-up portion of the president’s weekly address from March 31, 2012.
“Anyone who does well for themselves, should do their fair share in return,” Obama says in the RNC version of the sentence. “Now some people call this class warfare.”
Obama was referring to the so-called Buffet Rule, an Obama proposal that would change the tax code so the super rich don’t pay a lower tax rate than the middle class, but the RNC video removes that context. Polling from around the time showed the public overwhelmingly supported the idea.
Here’s the section from Obama’s March address, with the RNC edits highlighted:
Do we want to keep giving tax breaks to the wealthiest Americans like me, or Warren Buffett, or Bill Gates — people who don’t need them and never asked for them? Or do we want to keep investing in things that will grow our economy and keep us secure? Because we can’t afford to do both.
Now, some people call this class warfare. But I think asking a billionaire to pay at least the same tax rate as his secretary is just common sense. We don’t envy success in this country. We aspire to it. But we also believe that anyone who does well for themselves should do their fair share in return, so that more people have the opportunity to get ahead — not just a few.
The video ends the quote at “some people call this class warfare” — but Obama expressly denounces that label in the very next sentence.
The next quote, now familiar from dozens of similar ads and videos, is Obama saying, “If you got a business, you didn’t build that” during a Virginia speech. While the clip is an improvement on previous Republican ads that deliberately spliced together multiple lines from Obama’s remarks to radically distort his meaning, it still leaves out key context. Mainly, the sentence before and afterward — missing from the RNC video — show Obama wasn’t talking about building a business, he was talking about infrastructure like roads, bridges and the Internet that help businesses flourish.
Obama: If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business, you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.
Finally, the RNC uses a 1998 clip of Obama at a Loyola University conference discussing his belief in “redistribution” via government programs. “I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution,” the clip says.
While this is already a fairly unremarkable point (Obama’s entire campaign is premised on asking the rich to pay more to invest in the middle class), it cuts off key parts of Obama’s actual remarks. NBC unearthed a fuller video of the event on Wednesday in which Obama details on how “redistribution” worked in the context of expanding opportunity within the free market.
Obama: I think the trick is figuring out how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody’s got a shot. How do we pool resources at the same time as we decentralize delivery systems in ways that both foster competition, can work in the marketplace, and can foster innovation at the local level and can be tailored to particular communities.
The video was released amid the Romney campaign’s protestations that a portion of a leaked Romney fundraiser tape was deceptively edited. In the passage angering Republicans, Romney sounded a pessimistic note on a two-state solution initially left out a later passage in which he expressed at least mild hopes that it might one day by achieved. Conservative commentators also have complained about a one- to two-minute gap in the middle of the 48-minute video of the entire fundraiser, which is divided into two parts. Mother Jones, which published the video, says that the person who filmed it had to restart the camera at one point and that nothing was left out due to editing.