Friday, December 17, 2010

Lie of the Year: Government takeover of health care

The St. Petersburg Times's has come out with its "Lie of the Year," a Republican lie that's a most deserving winner -- "A government takeover of health care":

In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama's ambitious plan to overhaul America's health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a "government takeover."

"Takeovers are like coups," Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. "They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom."

The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the "public option" concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.

But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn't let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.

PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen "government takeover of health care" as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections.

Readers of PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times' independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year's most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)

By selecting "government takeover' as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy.

The phrase is simply not true.

Republicans uttered countless lies this year -- for example, nasty and bigoted ones about Muslims and the Park51 community center -- but this was certainly one of the most significant and enduring, rivalled only by the various lies, also nasty and very often bigoted, spun by the Teabaggers, whether about Obama or "government" or taxes or whatever.

There was a lot to choose from, but PolitiFact, in its independent and non-partisan way, chose wisely.

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  • I notice that since the election concluded, we don't hear much about "that mosque" anymore. Gee. What a surprise.

    Now we hear about how we need to "kill terrorists and cut taxes," which actually means "spend insanely on the military sector and cut taxes, regulations, and criminal culpibility for me." This is the GOP. This is what the next some-even years are going to be. Status quo for 30 years now and counting...

    Surprised, anyone? I know the writer of this fine blog-piece is not surprised.

    I am so terribly embarrassed for my country right now. I can't believe we put the worst of the worst back in office again. Another GOP majority. What a waste of everything. Even a Democratic majority, that herd of a hundred different breeds of cats, is a thousand times better than this. At least something good gets done.


    By Blogger Jersey McJones, at 9:54 PM  

  • Bogeymen don't have the shelf life they once enjoyed. Got to keep supplying us with new things to hate, new things to fear so we don't figure out we're being conned.

    By Blogger Capt. Fogg, at 11:05 AM  

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