PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year Is True

The Magical Balance Fairy strikes again

What a disappointment. In a year absolutely filled with blatant, outrageous right wing Big Lies, Politifact picks as their “Lie of the Year” something that’s actually a true statement: Lie of the Year 2011: ‘Republicans voted to end Medicare’.

Simply put, I don’t buy their rationale. And in fact, their own readers’ poll shows that this was only the third most popular choice; the first and second choices really were outright lies. The poll results:

  1. The economic stimulus created “zero jobs.” — The National Republican Senatorial Committee and other Republicans (24%)
  2. Abortion services are “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”- Sen. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz. (17%)
  3. “Republicans voted to end Medicare.” — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and other Democrats (16%)

Steve Benen’s post shows why Politifact is simply wrong in calling this a “lie:” PolitiFact ought to be ashamed of itself.

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.

It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that Politifact isn’t really checking facts here, but trying for a phony kind of “balance” to avoid being accused of partisan bias — because while it’s true that dishonesty is often practiced on both sides of America’s political process, in the Obama era there’s far more of it coming from the right.

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