Imagine you’re a screenwriter and you’ve just written a brilliant Black-Like-Me type script about the racial divide in America. This time though it’s a black man experiencing what it’s like to be white. It’s got Oscar written all over it. You’ve named it The Mountaintop and you’ve submitted it to best studios and agents in Hollywood. Good news! They love it! Bad news! They’ve changed the script “a bit,” added another character and are calling it White Chicks. But “it’s still the same movie,” they say.
That’s the basic argument behind PolitiFact’s claim regarding their Lie of the Year. This year’s Lie of the Year is: “Republicans voted to end Medicare.” The problem with this being the Lie of the Year is that it’s true. Republicans did vote to end Medicare.
See, Medicare is a social insurance program which in very basic terms works like this: people pay into the system which is administered by the federal government through a trust fund and when they become eligible the federal government begins paying hospitals and doctors and such directly for services rendered to said persons. The key is that the federal government makes payments direct to the service providers.
So what’s this about the Republicans voting to end Medicare? Well, House Republicans, on April 15, 2011, voted to enact the Ryan Plan written by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). The Ryan Plan, which was the plan that sent grandma flying over the edge of the cliff in the famous Agenda Project Ad, fundamentally restructured Medicare so that the government no longer directly pays service providers. Instead, patients would use a voucher, or as Ryan calls it, “premium support,” to purchase insurance from a private insurance company. Therefore, the Ryan Plan actually privatizes what is now the public Medicare. Once you private the now public Medicare, it is no longer Medicare. It is something else.
It’s kind of like ice. Once you melt ice, it’s no longer ice, it won’t keep your drinks cold anymore, and it will make your cooler stink if mixed with old fruits and sandwiches.
Nevertheless, PolitiFact found it in their heart to call this fact the Lie of the Year even stating:
PolitiFact debunked the Medicare charge in nine separate fact-checks rated False or Pants on Fire, most often in attacks leveled against Republican House members.
They also posted a photo from the Agenda Project’s granny tossing ad stating in the caption:
Videos like this one from the Agenda Project used elderly actors to falsely suggest Paul Ryan’s proposal would affect current seniors.
They did however overlook a couple of their own fact checking efforts.
- The Paul Ryan budget proposal would “privatize Medicare.” (Throw-granny-from-the-cliff ad says Paul Ryan plan would privatize Medicare) – Rated Mostly True
- “We just fought a Republican budget that ends Medicare as we know it.” (Cicilline says he fought Republican budget that ends “Medicare as we know it.”) – Rated Mostly False and Barely True in the same post!
So what’s up PolitiFact’s butt? Paul Krugman thinks he knows: “[T]he people at PolitiFact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear ‘balanced’ — and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.”
Ouch, Krug. But he has a point when you consider the other candidates for Lie of the Year in order of reader popularity:
- The economic stimulus created “zero jobs.” — The National Republican Senatorial Committee and other Republicans (24%)
- Abortion services are “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”- Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. (17%)
- “Republicans voted to end Medicare.” — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democrats (16%)
- Scientists are “questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change. … (It is) more and more being put into question.” — Republican presidential candidate Rick Perry (11%)
- The vaccine to prevent HPV can cause mental retardation. — Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann (10%)
- President Obama “went around the world and apologized for America.” – Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (8%)
- “I didn’t raise taxes once.” – President Barack Obama (6%)
- Because of more restrictive voting laws, Republicans “want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws.” – Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and head of the Democratic National Committee (4%)
- Other (Suggestions varied widely: “Tax cuts for the top 2% create jobs!!! NOT!”, “That he OBAMA IS NOT A MARXIST WHEN HE REALLY IS!”, “All of the above”, “every time that Pres. Obama opens his mouth”, “Tax cuts and deregulation will create jobs – All of the GOP candidates.”) (2%)
- The Obama administration’s review of obsolete regulations was “unprecedented.” – President Barack Obama (1%)
- Congressional Republicans have introduced dozens of bills on social issues and other topics, but “zero on job creation.” – Facebook posts (1%)
- Finalists for PolitiFact’s 2011 Lie of the Year and President of Pathological Liars Anonymous Announced (restoringtruthiness.org)
- PolitiFact’s ‘Lie of the Year’ is true (dailykos.com)
- Debating the Truth of 2011′s ‘Lie of the Year’ (blogs.wsj.com)
- Politifact’s Big Lie: Republicans DO want to end Medicare (dangerousminds.net)