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Politifact’s Big Lie: Republicans DO want to end Medicare
12:01 pm

I once had a date that went very, very poorly. Unbeknownst to me, the gorgeous, full-lipped brunette who I’d met at an art opening and who was now seated across from me, was an Ayn Rand fan and a conservative Catholic.

They didn’t have E-Harmony back then.

During the course of conversation, the woman I was having dinner and I came to quickly find that we did not agree about anything. Probably the only thing we could agree on is that we couldn’t agree on anything else. It was all downhill from the time the drinks arrived.

What really drove me nuts about her was that she constantly offered conversational rebuttals of the “well, they say that…” or “well, most critics said that…” variety. That’s so lame. Finally when the conversation reached a level of ill-will you might see on a news channel between Dana Loesch and well, anyone rational—I could take it no more. I called to her attention what I was observing, that over and over again, in the course of just a single conversation, ALL of the opinions she expressed—and which were apparently strongly held—were without exception second-hand, referring in every instance to what someone else thought. Then she would fold her arms and declare “Well, that’s what so and so says, so it must be true.” What did SHE actually think or was she simply content to be a knee-jerk parrot of the opinions of other people, I asked, fully aware I was not only jabbing in the knife, but twisting it like Freddy Kruger. The constant fallback to the great authoritative (and unnamed) “they say” was as annoying as fuck.

This is why I hate Politifact. It’s the thing that smartass Internet commenters always use as their backstop: “See? Look what Politifact had to say. Nah nah na nah nah!” You see this all over the place. References to Politifact are a blight on political blogs. As I see it, referring to Polifact in any sort of debate is an admission that your own critical thinking skills are not firing on all pistons.

Even when Politifact “agrees” with an opinion I hold, or concurs with my own take on something, I still hate Politifact because by trying to be “balanced,” they often refuse to call something for what it really is. Or else they go overboard trying to rationalize why a certain level of media hyperbole is “false” by going in the other direction to an often absurd extent.

The old adage that there are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle is simply no longer applicable in the age of Fox News, Rush Limbaugh and the Tea party.

And this year’s Politifact Lie of the Year got it all wrong. Wrong to the point where they didn’t just tarnish whatever reputation some people think Polifact has, they detonated it with this load of absolute shite:

Republicans muscled a budget through the House of Representatives in April that they said would take an important step toward reducing the federal deficit. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the plan kept Medicare intact for people 55 or older, but dramatically changed the program for everyone else by privatizing it and providing government subsidies.

Democrats pounced. Just four days after the party-line vote, 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.” […]

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.

Now, PolitiFact has chosen the Democrats’ claim as the 2011 Lie of the Year.

As Steven Benen writes on the Poltical Animal blog: PolitiFact ought to be ashamed of itself

This is simply indefensible. Claims that are factually true shouldn’t be eligible for a Lie of the Year designation.

It’s unnerving that we have to explain this again, but since PolitiFact appears to be struggling with the relevant details, let’s set the record straight.

Medicare is a single-payer health care system offering guaranteed benefits to seniors. The House Republican budget plan intended to privatize the existing system and replace it with something very different — a voucher scheme. It would still be called “Medicare,” but it wouldn’t be Medicare.

It seems foolish to have to parse the meaning of the word “end,” but if there’s a program, and it’s replaced with a different program, proponents brought an end to the original program. That’s what the verb means.

I’ve been trying to think of the best analogy for this. How about this one: imagine someone owns a Ferrari. It’s expensive and drives beautifully, and the owner desperately wants to keep his car intact. Now imagine I took the car away, removed the metallic badge off the trunk that says “Ferrari,” I stuck it on a golf cart, and I handed the owner the keys.

“Where’s my Ferrari?” the owner would ask.

“It’s right here,” I’d respond. “This has four wheels, a steering wheel, and pedals, and it says ‘Ferrari’ right there on the back.”

By PolitiFact’s reasoning, I haven’t actually replaced the car — and if you disagree, you’re a pants-on-fire liar.

Here’s how Paul Krugman put it:

Republicans voted to replace Medicare with a voucher system to buy private insurance — and not just that, a voucher system in which the value of the vouchers would systematically lag the cost of health care, so that there was no guarantee that seniors would even be able to afford private insurance.

The new scheme would still be called “Medicare”, but it would bear little resemblance to the current system, which guarantees essential care to all seniors.

How is this not an end to Medicare? And given all the actual, indisputable lies out there, how on earth could saying that it is be the “Lie of the year”?

The answer is, of course, obvious: the 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.

Hear, hear. Bye-bye Politifact, you have officially jumped your last credibility shark. There’s no need to pay attention to you at all anymore.

The truth is not bipartisan! It’s just not.

Posted by Richard Metzger
12:01 pm



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