Just Shut Down the Fact Checkers and Do Journalism

Reader rusty emailed to tell us that FactCheck.org has decided to go down the rabbit hole along with Polifact on the “lie of the year” by criticizing Democratic ads referencing the Ryan Plan:

Medicare would have been fundamentally changed, but by no means “ended.” Those now under age 55 would have been given, when they reached age 65, a choice of private insurance plans, and federal subsides to help pay for one. That’s much like the system Democrats have enacted to cover many younger workers in their new health care law, and like the Medicare Advantage system that covers about one in four Medicare beneficiaries today.

The political and policy ignorance here is jaw-dropping.  Democrats would have preferred Medicare for everyone but they couldn’t get it passed, so they compromised and settled for a lesser plan–anyone paying attention to Democratic politics in the last couple of years knows that. The difference between the Ryan Plan and Medicare Advantage is that Medicare Advantage recipients are guaranteed the same benefits as other Medicare recipients, and then those benefits are provided via private coverage (which is more expensive, by the way). This last point is what is completely missed in FactCheck’s discussions of this “lie”, as we can see in the next paragraph:

It would be fair game to debate whether the plan Republicans voted for would have been adequately funded, or whether it would have produced too much hardship for those turning 65 a decade from now. That $6,400 figure is a big one, to be sure. But picturing gray-haired seniors and telling them that the plan would “essentially end Medicare” is still far from the truth, even if Democrats think they can win elections by doing so.

The whole point of the argument about the Ryan Plan is that it guaranteed contribution plan rather than a guaranteed benefit plan. Switching from Medicare to the Ryan Plan is like switching from a pension to a 401K.  You get a benefit intended to help with retirement, but nobody thinks that you’re getting the same thing.  But who cares about pesky policy details, we know it’s a lie because it made uninformed, ignorant liberals like Krugman and Maddow mad:

Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” rating drew howls from liberal commentators and left-leaning news outlets, including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, not to mention Democratic operatives, as though they collectively held a trademark on the name “Medicare.”

There are two ironies here. The first is FactCheck accusing Democrats of doubling down in a piece that resurrects Polifact’s stupid lie of the year and re-emphasizes its stupidity. The second is how they mock Democrats for taking ownership of Medicare in the middle of their weak attempt to own “facts”.  Of course, we all remember how Barry Goldwater, Dick Nixon and Ronald Reagan came out strongly for Medicare back in ’65, right after they pushed through the Voting Rights Act.

By the way, FactCheck.org is run by totebagger hero Kathleen Hall Jamison, who is a fixture on Bill Moyers’ programs on PBS.

Share On Facebook
Share On Twitter
Share On Google Plus
Share On Pinterest
Share On Reddit

50 replies
  1. 1
    WereBear says:

    I found a dog turd in my driveway and named it “Rolls Royce.”

    But it still won’t get me to work in the morning.

  2. 2
  3. 3
    geg6 says:

    Well, I was going to post a snarky remark, but WereBear has already won the thread.

  4. 4
    Cliff in NH says:

    Someone needs to make a venn diagram of the ryan plan vs medicare, cause it would make it So Obvious.

  5. 5

    Does Politifact really understand the meaning of “insurance” as opposed to investment with risk? I rate them the ‘complete morons’

  6. 6
    dmsilev says:

    So, what is Latin for “Who will fact-check the fact-checkers?”.

  7. 7
    c u n d gulag says:

    Werebear,
    I, too, found a turd in my driveway.
    A greasy one.
    I named it “Santorum” – and it got 27% of the vote in the Republican primary.

  8. 8
    eric says:

    i will only make the point that THIS is precisely why the Village is hard wired against progressive policy. No honest person could write that crap. The only reason to write it is to propagandize and intentionally guide the policy discussion to a certain result. Here, the result is to avoid complete deomcratic control of congress because of the financial disincentive it might cause to many of the country’s largest institutions and richest people. viva la revolucion.

  9. 9
    piratedan says:

    @WereBear: yeah, but the AZ MVD still wants you to keep the plates up to date and make sure that it passes emissions.

  10. 10
    Another Steve says:

    Actually, Democrats don’t think they have a trademark on “Medicare,” but they do kinda think Medicare does.

    My mind still boggles at how “fact checkers” invent a “lie” by abandoning semantic integrity.

    There was an episode of (British) Top Gear where they claimed Albanian mafia types wanted them to compare the top line Mercedes, Rolls Royce and Bentley, but Bentley wouldn’t give them one for the show, so they got a Yugo and Jeremy called it a Bentley and critiqued it as if it was a Bentley.

    http://www.topgear.com/uk/vide.....-episode-3

    The Top Gear episode is tears running down your eyes hilarious. Kind of like the fact checkers really.

  11. 11
    Anton Sirius says:

    The pension/401K analogy for the win. Ask anyone who saw their retirement vanish up Goldman Sachs’ ass during the meltdown whether that switch “essentially ended their pension”.

  12. 12
    Brian R. says:

    Does anyone at “Fact Check” understand what “facts” are?

  13. 13
    Brian R. says:

    And yeah, this:

    Switching from Medicare to the Ryan Plan is like switching from a pension to a 401K. You get a benefit intended to help with retirement, but nobody thinks that you’re getting the same thing.

    Needs to be repeated early and often.

  14. 14
    Peregrinus says:

    @dmsilev:

    Luckily for you, someone asked me that very question a few weeks ago:

    Quis verificabit ipsōs verificatorēs?

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Anton Sirius:

    This.

    Just this.

    Also, the Corzine theft corporations stealing of $1 billion in customer cash, and the vile shitstain Freeh letting them get away with it.

  16. 16
    kansi says:

    There isn’t enough caffeine in the world to overcome my fatigue at stories like this.

  17. 17
    Nutella says:

    The sneering tone at ‘Democrats’ is just the icing on the cake. This is a Republican political screed written by a Republican operative.

  18. 18
    Suffern ACE says:

    The Ryan plan changes just one little thing, one eentsy weentsy thing, about the plan. A thing soooo small that we can gloss over the effects of that change and make the biggest worry seem to be an argument about its name.

  19. 19
    Peregrinus says:

    @Nutella:

    But, but, but – Barack Obama served with BILL AYERS on the board of the Annenberg Foundation!

  20. 20

    @Peregrinus:

    Barack Obama served with BILL AYERS on the board of the Annenberg Foundation!

    That’s nothing. He HUGGED professor Bell back in the day!

  21. 21
    MariedeGourany says:

    @dmsilev: Qui facto reprehendo facto tabularii?

  22. 22
    RSA says:

    I’d like to see more quotes from Reagan about Medicare, like this from 1961:

    Write those letters now. Call your friends, and tell them to write them. If you don’t, this program I promise you will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country, until, one day…we will awake to find that we have socialism. And if you don’t do this, and if I don’t do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.

    Republicans haven’t changed their position; they’ve just managed to hide it from the public.

  23. 23
    RSA says:

    I’d like to see more quotes from Reagan about Medicare, like this from 1961:

    Write those letters now. Call your friends, and tell them to write them. If you don’t, this program I promise you will pass just as surely as the sun will come up tomorrow. And behind it will come other federal programs that will invade every area of freedom as we have known it in this country, until, one day…we will awake to find that we have soc1alism. And if you don’t do this, and if I don’t do it, one of these days, you and I are going to spend our sunset years telling our children, and our children’s children, what it once was like in America when men were free.

    Republicans haven’t changed their position; they’ve just managed to hide it from the public.

  24. 24
    Blue Neponset says:

    Propaganda wise, I actually think this is good news. The more the “fact checkers” talk about the Republicans ending Medicare the more people will think the Republicans are ending medicare. American voters aren’t known for picking through the details of political ads.

  25. 25
    dmsilev says:

    @Peregrinus: Thanks! Can’t say I was expecting anyone to actually have an answer; this place continues to amaze.

  26. 26
    Quincy says:

    By that logic, it’s also factually true that Obamacare is a single-payer plan. Boy, did we on the left waste a lot of time fighting about nothing.

  27. 27
    Peregrinus says:

    @dmsilev:

    High school Latin teacher. I do this for fun. :-)

    @Linda Featheringill:

    THAT BASTARD!

  28. 28
    Chyron HR says:

    It’s odd that FactCheck.org seems relatively disinterested in the veracity of Republican claims that the President is a Muslim illegal alien from Kenya.

    Surely this claim is, at best, “half true”.

  29. 29
    R. Porrofatto says:

    Some random lines from that factcheck piece:

    ..”such long-term projections are hardly set in stone”
    “And there’s another caveat…
    “Those who didn’t, however, would certainly pay more — how much more is uncertain.”
    “…even if the CBO’s admittedly uncertain projection turned out to be correct, at least some seniors would get enough in additional subsidies to more than cover the costlier Ryan plan.”

    It took them almost 3,000 words filled with such caveats, buts, even if’s and other contortions to “prove” that something demonstrably true could be a lie, and that’s good enough for them. So if Republicans didn’t vote to end Medicare, what did they vote for? Here are some facts:

    – Republicans voted for a plan that “dramatically changed the program” for future beneficiaries “by privatizing it and providing government subsidies.”

    – “Under the current Medicare system, the government pays the health care bills for Americans over age 65. Under the Ryan plan, future beneficiaries would be given a credit and invited to shop for an approved plan” on a health insurance exchange.

    – It would be “changed from its current fee-for-service, where the government pays all the bills, to one that uses private insurers.”

    – “Seniors would have to pay more to get the benefits they receive today, according to an analysis completed earlier this year by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO).”

    Every one of the items quoted above reinforces the statement that the Ryan plan ends Medicare, and every one of them came from PolitiFact’s own “Lie of the Year” announcement.

  30. 30
    J R in WVa says:

    401K =/= pension!!!

    Health insurance =/= health care savings account

    My wife and I both took advantage of 401/457 accounts to the maximum amounts allowed (at first) or could afford. By the time we retired we each had several hundred thousand dollars.

    My money was in ING mutual funds and I had a pretty good return on my investments. BUT I retired the end of 2008. Down 40%!!!

    Wife retired earlier, with more money, and she transferred her savings from the commercial entity her employer chose to our personal financial advisor, who had a much better result 2008-2010.

    BUT we both have defined benefit pensions, not giant ones, but just the same, if her employer can stay in business (not a given!) and my state gov’t doesn’t turn the retirement accounts into a budget funds source, we will be comfortable.

    If we had to count on our 401/457 we would be working another 20 years, and then dying.

    If we had to rely on a health care savings account, her 62 day hospital stay, including 17 days in ICU would have resulted in a negative balance in that account of like 6 digits. NOT Medicare, not insurance.

    Fortunately Medicare and her corporate supplementary insurance results in our out-of-pocket cost being in the thousands, rather than hundreds of thousands.

    This is what the Ruan Plan would steal from people in their 40s and 50s.

    THIS IS THE BIG LIE BEING FACILITATED BY THESE REPIBLICAN SO_CALLED FACT CHECKERS!!!

    There is nothing the same between defined benefit and defined payment. NOTHING. Acting as if there is is the BIG LIE! They’ve stolen pensions using this lie, and now they want to steal Medicare health care. Next they’ll do it to Social Security.

  31. 31
    RalfW says:

    I’m strangely fascinated by so-called liberals and moderates who, now of all moments, have decided to feint right, as the nation is sick unto death of the whole GOP moron-parade.

    Rush is self-immolating. Newt, Rick and Mitt are locked in a death-match to be at the wheel of the clown car as it careers off the edge.

    And what do the totebaggers do just as Reagan’s legacy of anger, shame, lies and division is about to utter it’s death-rattle?

    Buy the “center-right” meme at twice the offer price.

    Idiots.

    .

  32. 32
    patrick II says:

    At least Limbaugh knows what he’s a mean liar he undermines logic, coherence and facts. Rush consciously distorts truth. The earnest “guardians of truth” at Factcheck frustrate me in a way Limbaugh doesn’t.

  33. 33
    The Snarxist Formerly Known As Kryptik says:

    BOTH SIDES SAME THING, BOTH SIDES SAME THING, WHY CAN’T YOU STUPID PROLES SEEEEEEEE?!

    – Factcheck.org 2012

  34. 34
    piratedan says:

    well maybe the members of that site like the salary that they are making for writing this stuff or perhaps we could pay them on the basis of mouse clicks and the weight of those mouse clicks against all other mouse clicks on the web. Now the government can start you off by way of a subsidy for the first 500 mouse clicks and then its a matter of what the market may bear on a day by day basis on what the market has established mouse clicks might be worth.

    see, its just like a salary in that you’re still getting paid for your work, right?

  35. 35
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    If Factchuck’s domain lapsed and got taken over by a Ukrainian site selling goat-pr0n and distributing viruses, it would still be at the same URL, so clearly it wouldn’t have been ended.

  36. 36
    jim filyaw says:

    this is why i’m getting so damned cynical in my old age.

  37. 37
    jim filyaw says:

    when the under 55 generation run out of world enough and time and present to medical providers for the same care their parents enjoyed and are told t.s., what are they supposed to say? hey, its still medicare, isn’t it?

  38. 38
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: Ah, but unlike the Republican plans for Medicare, FactCheck would have arguably been improved. Kaus would still link to it.

  39. 39
    gumbo says:

    Just sent this email to FactCheck.org . . .

    Hello,

    I am writing because I was very disturbed by your defense of Politifact’s “Ending Medicare is lie of the year” canard. Simply put, the Ryan plan does end Medicare in all but name. Medicare is currently a defined benefit program, analogous to a pension for retirement. The Ryan plan shifts medicare to a defined contribution program, analogous to a 401K. Nobody refers to a pension as a 401K because they are not the same. They are structured in fundamentally different ways, with the onus of payout on different entities (the employer vs. the employee/ the federal govt. vs. the Medicare recipient).

    You can argue whether in the future the Federal Government will have enough money to continue the defined benefit program, and if you think not, then maybe a shift to a defined contribution program (in which the recipients of Medicare will in all likelihood have to pick up a significantly larger share of their health care costs )might be warranted. But that is not the argument Ryan, Politifact, and now FactCheck are making. You are asking us to believe that the fundamental shift in Medicare from a defined benefit program to a defined contribution program is merely semantic. This is not the case. A 401K is not a pension, and everyone recognizes that basic fact. In the exact same vein, Ryan’s health care proposal is not Medicare as it has always been understood, and it should not be called such.

    It is already confusing enough for the average citizen to get accurate information on just what the various proposals being floated about Medicare are, and you are not helping matters by obscuring the truly radical dismantling of the defined benefit plan known as Medicare that Ryan is proposing.

    Regards,

    At least they’ll know that some of us out there are really paying attention. Oy.

  40. 40
    Ed Drone says:

    @Brian R.:

    Does anyone at “Fact Check” understand what “facts” are?

    No, but they sure as shit know what “checks” are, and whose account they’re written on!

    Ed

  41. 41
    Hob says:

    In my paranoid moments, I wonder if the actual purpose of Politifact isn’t just to discredit the whole idea of fact-checking. I don’t mean the idea of having organizations that do nothing but that and try to put themselves forward as standard neutral arbiters– I think that’s probably pointless. I mean the idea of anyone pointing to something a politician said and saying “that’s not true” and explaining why. The bullshit these guys are spewing could be enough to desensitize people, so that their eyes glaze over the next time someone tries to explain why Iran is not really in league with North Korea.

  42. 42
    dww44 says:

    @eric: This. I was so hoping to see a post on the FactCheck dishonest slime about Democrats and Medicare. I get their email udpates and the headline on that one so infuriated me that I haven’t even yet opened it. Left it in my email with its bolded type.

    Now thanks to this comment and others I believe I can respond and argue with it. Hopefully others will join the rebuttal efforts as well.

  43. 43
    PTirebiter says:

    Kathleen Hall Jamison is a weird bird and watching here with Moyers is almost surreal. Asked if she was disappointed with Obama’s decision to endorse his super pac, she replied she was still dissapointed in him for not using public financing for his 2008 campaign. Moyers moves on to his next question. No context, just unqualified disappointment in Obama.
    I think that’s the essence of the Totebag Party. They’re not Conservatives, they’re not Liberals, they sit on high as observers of the human condition and, they are disappointed. A lie is a lie but when it comes from the side you tend to favor, it’s especially heinous and must be denounced because, well were supposed to be better than that.I read the fact check piece and it seem to say that while it may indeed be very likely that Medicare as we now know it would be reduced to unaffordable crap, it would still be Medicare. And besides… it would still be exactly the same for for any voter that was currently 55 or older. So scaring those folks is inexcusable. And very dissapointing. Even the liberal Kevin Drum said Democrats should find a more accurate way to describe the hideous Ryan plan.

  44. 44
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @PTirebiter:

    Kathleen Hall Jamison is a weird bird and watching here with Moyers is almost surreal. Asked if she was disappointed with Obama’s decision to endorse his super pac, she replied she was still dissapointed in him for not using public financing for his 2008 campaign.

    This is cretinous stupidity at its best.

    What Obama did in 2008 was adhere to the spirit of campaign finance reform (by getting small donations from millions) while ignoring the artificial constraints of the “public financing” system with its cap on total spending.

  45. 45
    Mnemosyne says:

    @PTirebiter:

    And besides… it would still be exactly the same for for any voter that was currently 55 or older. So scaring those folks is inexcusable.

    I still don’t understand this totebagger/right wing position. It’s like they’re saying, “It’s okay, you’ll still have Medicare, it’s just that your kids will get screwed when they retire. No problemo!” Is that actually a winning message?

  46. 46
    dj spellchecka says:

    i’m also reader rusty and thanks to mistermix for frontpaging this…

    here’s a comment i left at the cjr when they were ripping politifact a new one in early january: the minute politifact announced their nominees for “lie of the year,” everyone paying attention knew that “ends medicare” was their winner for an obvious reason: they couldn’t give the award to a republican for the third year in a row. it was all politics on their part. the end.

    the fact that they had to offer up a long winded defense/explanation as to WHY it was a lie [depends on the meaning of the word “end”], took it out of “pants on fire” territory, therefore disqualifying it for “lie of the year.”

  47. 47
    El Cid says:

    Removing a toilet and replacing it with a bucket is therefore not “taking away the toilet,” since you can still sit on something and shit.”

  48. 48
    tofubo says:

    (in my best Frank Booth impersonation):

    FactCheck ?? fuck that shit !! FlackCheck !!

  49. 49
    tcinaz says:

    If Kathleen Hall Jamison is still disappointed that Obama didn’t use public financing for his campaign, then she wanted him to lose. That explains her position on the Medicare issue quite well.

  50. 50
    Bob2 says:

    Didn’t anyone remember that Politifact’s lie of the year was VOTED on by the public?

    http://www.politifact.com/trut.....-lie-year/

Comments are closed.