Lie of the Year

Politifact’s  Lie of the Year 2011: “Republicans voted to end Medicare.” The perpetrators: the Democratic Party and such columnists as Paul Krugman. The judgment:

Just four days after the party-line vote [on the Paul Ryan House republican budget], the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a Web ad that said seniors will have to pay $12,500 more for health care “because Republicans voted to end Medicare.”

Rep. Steve Israel of New York, head of the DCCC, appeared on cable news shows and declared that Republicans voted to “terminate Medicare.” A Web video from the Agenda Project, a liberal group, said the plan would leave the country “without Medicare” and showed a Ryan look-alike pushing an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. And just last month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a fundraising appeal that said: “House Republicans’ vote to end Medicare is a shameful act of betrayal.”

Objecting to the decision: Matt Yglesias and Ezra Klein. But did they object when Politifact declared the 2010 lie of the year was the Republican claim that ObamaCare was a “government takeover of health care”? Not that I can recall. Avik Roy provides the back story.

Comments (5)

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  1. Stephen C. says:

    I agree. It was the lie of the year.

  2. Madeline says:

    I agree. It was a real whopper.

  3. Brian says:

    Just watched the video from the Agenda Project. I copy/pasted the text of what that organization is about below. They make it very hard to tell just how progressive the organization is:

    “The Agenda Project’s goal is to build a powerful, intelligent, well-connected political movement capable of identifying and advancing rational, effective ideas in the public debate and in so doing ensure our country’s enduring success.

    Between out-dated political parties, self-interested multi-national corporations, and ineffectual elected officials, good values and common sense have lost their power in the public debate. Our goal is to return normal Americans to the center of the policy debate by cultivating an understanding of public policy, facilitating common action, and connecting the best ideas and the strongest leaders with engaged citizens, elected officials, the media, political insiders, and experts through a variety of in-person and on-line platforms.”

  4. Eric says:

    What exactly do you find to be such a blatant lie about stating that the Ryan plan would end Medicare? The “pushing Grandma off a cliff” rhetoric (also used by the right in discussing the ACA) was certainly over the top (that’s politics for you), but Medicare is by nature a government insurance program, and privatizing Medicare via vouchers is changing the way the program functions. Medicare under the Ryan plan would be a fundamentally changed program, and keeping the name wouldn’t change that fact.

    As for the 2010 “Lie of the Year”, I would be curious how Obamacare could be accurately characterized as a “government takeover” of healthcare. If Obamacare moved the US to a single-payer system that would perhaps make sense. However, the fact is that the plan still maintains (and even strengthens) the role of private insurers. Expanding the role of government? Perhaps. But takeover? Get real.

    I notice you’re not objecting to the 2009 “lie of the year” winner, “death panels”, which is a good thing for your credibility. Unlike the last two years where there are some shades of gray, that was an absolute whopper with no basis in reality (if you disagree, please provide some evidence), but was cynically used by politicians to scare voters.

    It certainly doesn’t seem hypocritical to not object to Politifact’s choice if you agree with it, but criticize them if you think they are wrong (and provide actual evidence other than the tired “liberal bias”), as you allege that Klein and Yglesias were doing. To me there certainly have been worse lies than the “ending Medicare” argument this year. Given its prominence and political significance, I understand why Politifact chose it, but it seems to have significant basis in reality (which in my mind disqualifies it from being “lie of the year” material).

  5. Abid says:

    I’d bet that there will be plenty of “lies” to choose from next year when it’s time to choose the Lie of the Year, especially since it’s a presidential election year.