Critique of the 2nd Democrat Debate, from all sides

By Suzanne Price – When Hillary spoke after the debate, she announced to the small gathering, “The other side (meaning the Republicans) does not want young people to be involved, they don’t want young people to register and vote, they don’t want people of color, they don’t want elderly people, they want to prevent you from voting because they are afraid of the way you will vote.”

That is not true. Hillary is flat out telling a ‘Lie’, she knows it is a lie. Republicans have never said any of that. But really, can we expect anything but lies from her? (Benghazi). The Left preaches these untruths over and over to their flock and are not questioned as to their validity.

The Republicans do want the young, do want people of color, do want the elderly to register and to vote. What the Republicans do not want, is for groups such as Acorn (who helped get Obama elected) and other left-wing organizations to allow them to abuse the system and have the young, the people of color and the elderly to vote more than once.

There are many take aways from Saturday night’s Democrat debate. But the question is, can America afford to have even one more term any democrat as President, especially now? I think not. Not if we are to remain a free nation. If they can not tell the truth while running for public office and they want that job, what could we expect from these three after being elected?

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders stretched the truth when facts are checked, and some reports claim Bernie Sanders actually won.

FactChecking the Second Democratic Debate

By Brooks Jackson, Robert Farley, Lori Robertson, D’Angelo Gore and Eugene Kiely – MSN

Summary

The three Democratic presidential candidates faced off on a Saturday night, and made several inaccurate claims:

  • Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said that in President Reagan’s first term, the highest marginal income tax rate was 70 percent. But Reagan signed a bill in his first year dropping that to 50 percent, and it dropped again to 28 percent in his second term.
  • Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders said that the U.S. “has more income and wealth inequality than any major country on earth.” But Israel, Brazil and Chile have both greater income and wealth inequality, and more countries beat the U.S. in one of the measures.
  • Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrongly said that wages “haven’t risen since the turn of the last century.” Real average weekly earnings of rank-and-file workers rose 7.2 percent since 1999.
  • Sanders repeated his talking point about billionaires paying “an effective tax rate lower than nurses or truck drivers.” That may be the case for some in those professions, once we factor in payroll taxes, but it’s not accurate for all.
  • When Clinton cited Princeton economist Alan Krueger’s support for her minimum wage proposal, O’Malley called him a Wall Street economist. He’s not.
  • O’Malley boasted that Maryland was “the only state” to freeze college tuition four years in a row. This year, Maine did so as well.

Analysis

Clinton, Sanders and O’Malley met at Drake University in Iowa for the debate, which was hosted by CBS News, KCCI-TV in Des Moines and the Des Moines Register.

O’Malley on Top Tax Rate Under Reagan

O’Malley said that in President Ronald Reagan’s first term, “the highest marginal [income tax] rate was 70 percent.” That was true only briefly. In Reagan’s first year in office, he signed a bill reducing the top rate to 50 percent. And in his second term, he reduced it again, to 28 percent.

O’Malley cited the top marginal tax rate during the debate to make the point that upper-income taxpayers should be paying more, and historically have.

O’Malley: And may I point out that under Ronald Reagan’s first term, the highest marginal rate was 70 percent. And in talking to a lot of our neighbors who are in that super wealthy, millionaire and billionaire category, a great number of them love their country enough to do more again in order to create more opportunity for America’s middle class.

As a matter of history, the top marginal tax rate of 70 percent was established in 1964, when Congress passed a tax cutbacked by President John F. Kennedy. In the decades before that, the top rate was much higher — hovering around 90 percent.

So 70 percent was the top rate when Reagan took office in January 1981. Eight months after taking office, Reagan signed the Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, which cut the highest marginal tax rate to 50 percent.

In his second term, Reagan signed a bill in 1986 that lowered the top marginal income tax rate to 28 percent.

Sanders Off on Inequality and Poverty

Sanders continued to peddle some false claims about U.S. inequality and child poverty:

Sanders: This country today has more income and wealth inequality than any major country on earth. …  We have the highest rate of childhood poverty. …

Regarding income inequality, we noted back in May that World Bank statistics list at least 41 countries with greater income inequality than the U.S. — including Israel, Brazil, Mexico, Chile and Argentina.

And as for wealth inequality, the share of wealth held by the top 1 percent in the U.S. puts it in 11th place among 37 nations listed in the 2015 edition of the Global Wealth Databook. The top 1 percent in Russia, Thailand, Indonesia, India, Brazil, Chile, South Africa, China, Czech Republic and Israel each hold a greater share of their nation’s wealth, according to that publication.

Finally, the rate of child poverty is far worse in many other countries, including several with industrialized economies. The campaign told us the senator was referring to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, but that report ranks the U.S. seventh in “relative childhood poverty” among the 38 countries listed.

Turkey, Israel, Mexico, Greece, Romania and Bulgaria all had higher rates of child poverty than the U.S., in the OECD’s ranking.

It’s also worth noting that “relative poverty” is a measure of household disposable income relative to others in that country.

Clinton Wrong on Wages

Clinton erred when she said real wages haven’t risen in nearly 15 years.

Clinton: [W]ages adjusted for inflation haven’t risen since the turn of the last century.

That’s not true, according to the most recent figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Real average weekly earnings of rank-and-file workers were 7.2 percent higher in September than they were in December 1999.

Furthermore, real weekly wages have jumped 2.3 percent in the most recent 12 months alone.

Sanders on Truck Drivers’ Tax Rates

Sanders repeated one of his campaign trail talking points: “But we are going to end the absurdity, as Warren Buffet often remind us … that billionaires pay an effective tax rate lower than nurses or truck drivers.” That’s the case for some in those professions — compared with billionaires who earn their money through investments — but it’s not accurate for all. In fact, a truck driver would have to earn more than the median salary to pay a higher effective rate.

We previously ran the calculations for several different hypothetical nurses and truck drivers (and firefighters and police officers, who have also been part of this Sanders claim), comparing total effective tax rates, including payroll taxes, to what an investment fund manager would pay if only paying capital gains tax rates on earnings.

The billionaire fund manager would pay 23.8 percent — the top capital gains rate for income above $413,200 for individuals — and a 3.8 percent Medicare surcharge tax on investment income for those earning more than $200,000. A truck driver earning the median income for the profession ($39,520) wouldn’t pay a higher rate then the fund manager’s 23.8 percent.

demon debate

But if that truck driver earned a higher salary — such as the average pay in Peabody, Massachusetts ($57,250) — and was single with no dependents, he or she would pay an effective tax rate of 26 percent, higher than the fund manager. If that truck driver had one dependent child, however, the rate would drop to 21 percent.

As for nurses, the median salary is much higher — $66,640. A single nurse with no dependents would have a 28 percent effective tax rate with that salary. But once we add a dependent child, or a nonworking spouse, or both, the nurse’s rate sinks below that of the wealthy fund manager.

If the billionaire fund managers’ earnings were taxed at regular income tax rates, he or she would pay a higher rate. Most marginal income tax rates are higher than capital gains rates, with individual income between about $37,000 and $90,000 at the 25 percent rate for 2015. The top income tax rate is 39.6 percent, which starts after income surpasses $413,200.

Krueger Not a Wall Street Economist

O’Malley lumped Princeton economist Alan Krueger in with what he called “economists on Wall Street.” Krueger is not a Wall Street economist.

O’Malley made his remarks when he had a disagreement with Clinton over how much to raise the minimum wage. O’Malley supports raising it to $15 per hour. Clinton has proposed $12 per hour, and she cited Princeton economist Alan Krueger’s support for her proposal and concern for increasing the minimum to $15 per hour.

O’Malley: I think we need to stop taking our advice from economists on Wall Street …

Clinton: He’s not Wall Street.

O’Malley: … And start taking advice …

Clinton: That’s not fair. He’s a progressive economist.

O’Malley is wrong about Krueger’s background. It is entirely in academia and education.

Krueger graduated with a doctorate in economics from Harvard University in 1987. “Since 1987 he has held a joint appointment in the Economics Department and Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University,” according to his biography on the university website.

Krueger also has held top positions in government, including chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Barack Obama and chief economist at the Department of Labor under President Bill Clinton. His full curriculum vitae can be found here.

O’Malley’s Outdated Tuition Boast

O’Malley claimed that Maryland was the only state that went four consecutive years without an increase in college tuition. That’s no longer the case.

O’Malley: We were the only state to go four years in a row without a penny’s increase to college tuition.

Yes, as governor, O’Malley did sign bills implementing a tuition freeze at public universities in Maryland that lasted from 2007 until 2010. But Maine has now matched what Maryland once achieved.

In March of this year, the University of Maine System Board of Trustees again voted to freeze in-state tuition at its seven member schools. That means the school system has now gone four years without an increase in tuition at its public universities.

Sources

Geewax, Marilyn. “JFK’s Lasting Economic Legacy: Lower Tax Rates.” NPR. 14 Nov 2013.

Tax Foundation. Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History.

The Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation & Library. The Second American Revolution: Reaganomics.

GovTrack.us. H.R. 3838: Tax Reform Act of 1986.

Credit Suisse Research Institute. “Global Wealth Databook.” Oct 2015.

World Bank. “GINI index (World Bank estimate).” Data accessed 15 Nov 2015.

Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. “Chart CO2.2.A. Child income poverty rates, 2012.” Data accessed 15 Nov 2015.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. “Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics survey (National); Average Weekly Earnings of Production and Nonsupervisory Employees, 1982-1984 Dollars.” Data extracted 15 Nov 2015.

Robertson, Lori. “Hedge Fund Managers’ Tax Rates.” FactCheck.org. 8 Sep 2015.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014. 53-3032 Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck Drivers. accessed 15 Nov 2015.

Bureau of Labor Statistics. Occupational Employment and Wages, May 2014. 29-1141 Registered Nurses. accessed 15 Nov 2015.

O’Malley for President. “Raise the Minimum Wage.” Undated.

Krueger, Alan B. “The Minimum Wage: How Much Is Too Much?” New York Times. 9 Oct 2015.

Princeton University. “Alan B. Krueger, Biography.” Undated.

 

Obama Admin – Transparency, Redaction, and Delay…

Editor’s Note – The “Most transparent administration ever” is the mantra of the Obama Administration, and they laud the fact that the White House Visitor List is available – elsewhere, not so…

Ask the Citizens Commission on Benghazi with their myriad requests for information on Benghazi. Ask Karen and Billy Vaughn about ‘Extortion 17’. Ask the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, ask the House Ways and Means Committee.Capture2

Look at all the scandals – all of them still unsolved and/or not concluded from Fast & Furious, to the IRS, from the AP to Fox News reporters, it’s always opaque at best.

The reason is always – NO TRANSPARENCY! All we see is redaction, lies, deflections, demagoguery, distractions, delays, finger pointing, the blame game, the fifth… and then there all those unbelievable statistics on jobs, GNP, the debt, ObamaCare, HHS, wage disparity, etc. – lies, damn lies, and those rascally  statistics.

The most [REDACTED] administration in history

BY GENE HEALY – Washington Examiner

Good news: thanks to a ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Monday, the “most transparent administration in history” is going to have to tell American citizens when it believes it’s legally entitled to kill them.

The lawsuit arose out of Freedom of Information Act requests by two New York Times reporters for Office of Legal Counsel memoranda exploring the circumstances under which it would be legal for U.S. personnel to target American citizens. The administration stonewalled, asserting that “the very fact of the existence or nonexistence of such documents is itself classified,” and a federal district judge upheld the refusal in January 2013.

Issa-600A month later, however, someone leaked a Justice Department “white paper” on the subject to NBC News, forcing a re-examination of the question in light of changed circumstances. On Monday, the three-judge panel held “it is no longer either ‘logical’ or ‘plausible’ to maintain that disclosure of the legal analysis in the OLC-DOD Memorandum risks disclosing any aspect” of sensitive sources and methods.

In matters of transparency, the Obama Team can always be counted on to do the right thing — after exhausting all other legal options and being forced into it by the federal courts.

When “peals of laughter broke out in the briefing room” after then-press secretary Robert Gibbs floated the “most transparent administration” line at an April 2010 presser, the administration should have taken the hint. But it’s one soundbite they just can’t quit. Gibbs’ successor Jay Carneyrepeated it just last week, as did the president himself in a Google Hangout last year: “This is the most transparent administration in history …. I can document that this is the case.”

Actually, any number of journalists and open government advocates have documented that it’s not. As the Associated Press reported last month: “More often than ever, the [Obama] administration censored government files or outright denied access to them last year under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act.”

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. In the hope-infused afterglow of his first inauguration, President Obama declared, “for a long time now, there’s been too much secrecy in this city,” and ordered his attorney general to issue newly restrictive standards for government use of the “state secrets privilege,” which allows the government to shield national security secrets from civil or criminal discovery. Attorney General Eric Holder pledged that the administration would not “invoke the privilege for the purpose of concealing government wrongdoing or avoiding embarrassment.”GretaVanSustern-RedactedDocs224x199

Easier pledged than done, apparently. Earlier this year, in a case involving a Stanford graduate student erroneously placed on a no-fly list, we learned that the government had cried “state secrets” to cover up a paperwork error. Holder himself assured the court that assertion of the privilege was in keeping with the new policy of openness. When the presiding judge found out the truth, he said: “I feel that I have been had by the government.”

In fact, the Obama administration has driven state secrecy to new levels of absurdity. We’re not even allowed to know who we’re at war with, apparently, because letting that secret slip could cause “serious damage to national security.”

Over the last year, thanks in large part to illegal leaks, we’ve learned that we’re living in a [REDACTED] republic. In the president’s version of “transparency,” the Americans have no right to debate even the most basic public questions — like the legal standards for spying on or killing American citizens — unless, of course, that information leaks, at which point the administration “welcomes” the debate.

ObamaCare – More Bad News, Premiums to Skyrocket

Editor’s Note – Does anyone consider ObamaCare, or the PPACA an actual law anymore? It changes constantly, delays galore, lies about everything, and what ever happened to saving families $2,500 per year? Now we see that lie is worse than anticipated as well. Where will this all end?

O-Care premiums to skyrocket

By Elise Viebeck – The Hill

The expected rate hikes will be announced in the coming months amid an intense election year, when control of the Senate is up for grabs. The sticker shock would likely bolster the GOP’s prospects in November and hamper ObamaCare insurance enrollment efforts in 2015.SkyRocketObamaCare

The industry complaints come less than a week after Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius sought to downplay concerns about rising premiums in the healthcare sector. She told lawmakers rates would increase in 2015 but grow more slowly than in the past.

“The increases are far less significant than what they were prior to the Affordable Care Act,” the secretary said in testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Her comment baffled insurance officials, who said it runs counter to the industry’s consensus about next year.

“It’s pretty shortsighted because I think everybody knows that the way the exchange has rolled out … is going to lead to higher costs,” said one senior insurance executive who requested anonymity.

The insurance official, who hails from a populous swing state, said his company expects to triple its rates next year on the ObamaCare exchange.

The hikes are expected to vary substantially by region, state and carrier.

Areas of the country with older, sicker or smaller populations are likely to be hit hardest, while others might not see substantial increases at all.

Several major companies have been bullish on the healthcare law as a growth opportunity. With investors, especially, the firms downplay the consequences of more older, sicker enrollees in the risk pool.

Much will depend on how firms are coping with the healthcare law’s raft of new fees and regulatory restrictions, according to another industry official.

Some insurers initially underpriced their policies to begin with, expecting to raise rates in the second year.

Others, especially in larger states, will continue to hold rates low in order to remain competitive.

After this story was published, the administration pointed to some independent analyses that have cast doubt on whether the current mix of enrollees will lead to premium hikes.

ObamaCare also includes several programs designed to ease the transition and stave off premium increases. Reinsurance, for example, will send payments to insurers to help shoulder the cost of covering sick patients.

But insurance officials are quick to emphasize that any spikes would be a consequence of delays and changes in ObamaCare’s rollout.

They point out that the administration, after a massive public outcry, eased their policies to allow people to keep their old health plans. That kept some healthy people in place, instead of making them jump into the new exchanges.

Federal health officials have also limited the amount of money the government can spend to help insurers cover the cost of new, sick patients.

Perhaps most important, insurers have been disappointed that young people only make up about one-quarter of the enrollees in plans through the insurance exchanges, according to public figures that were released earlier this year. That ratio might change in the weeks ahead because the administration anticipates many more people in their 20s and 30s will sign up close to the March 31 enrollment deadline. Many insurers, however, don’t share that optimism.

These factors will have the unintended consequence of raising rates, sources said.

“We’re exasperated,” said the senior insurance official. “All of these major delays on very significant portions of the law are going to change what it’s going to cost.”

“My gut tells me that, for some people, these increases will be significant,” said Bill Hoagland, a former executive at Cigna and current senior vice president at the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Hoagland said Sebelius was seeking to “soften up the American public” to the likelihood that premiums will rise, despite promises to the contrary.

Republicans frequently highlight President Obama’s promise on the campaign trail to enact a healthcare law that would “cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.”

“They’re going to have to backpedal on that,” said Hoagland, who called Sebelius’s comment a “pre-emptive strike.”

“This was her way of getting out in front of it,” he added.

HHS didn’t comment for this article.

Insurers will begin the process this spring by filing their rate proposals with state officials.

Insurance commissioners will then release the rates sometime this summer, usually when they’re approved. Insurers could also leak their rates earlier as a political statement.

In some states, commissioners have the authority to deny certain rate increases, which could help prevent the most drastic hikes.

Either way, there will be a slew of bad headlines for the Obama administration just months before the election.

“It’s pretty bad timing,” said one insurance official.

Other health experts say predictions about premiums are premature.

David Cutler, who has been called an architect of Obama-Care, said, “Health premiums increase every year, so the odds are very good that they will increase next year as well.  None of that is news.  The question is whether it will be a lot or a little.  That depends in part on how big the insurers think the exchanges will be.”

Jon Gruber, who also helped design the Affordable Care Act, said, “The bottom line is that we just don’t know. Premiums were rising 7 to 10 percent a year before the law. So the question is whether we will see a continuation of that sort of single digit increase, as Sebelius said, or whether it will be larger.”

The White House and its allies have launched a full-court press to encourage healthy millennials to purchase coverage on the marketplaces.

HHS announced this week that sign-ups have exceeded 5 million, a marked increase since March 1.

White House press secretary Jay Carney on Tuesday claimed the administration has picked up the pace considerably, saying months ago reporters would have laughed if he “had said there would be 5 million enrollees by March 18.”

It remains unclear how many of those enrollees lost their insurance last year because of the law’s mandates. Critics have also raised questions about how the administration is counting people who signed up for insurance plans.

Political operatives will be watching premium increases this summer, most notably in states where there are contested Senate races.

In Iowa, which hosts the first presidential caucus in the nation and has a competitive Senate race this year, rates are expected to rise 100 percent on the exchange and by double digits on the larger, employer-based market, according to a recent article in the Business Record.

Sheila Timmons contributed.

Tangled Web Obama and Team Weaved

Editor’s Note – If you lie on your income tax returns, and the IRS catches you, guess what happens. You cannot just say oops, or plead the ‘fifth’, you have to fix it, likely pay a fine, and if bad enough, off to prison you go. ”

“O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!” – Walter Scott tangled-web

If an IRS employee pleads the ‘fifth’ in front of a Congressional hearing, then retires, is she likely to be prosecuted? If the President of the United States of America knowingly lies on national television, is it really a lie? Did he just misspeak about the IRS? If he repeats it over and over, what is it then, ObamaCare? If you like your liar, you can keep your liar?

Live Not by Lies

by Angelo M. Codevilla – LibertyLawSite.org

Being human, politicians lie. Even in the best regimes. The distinguishing feature of totalitarian regimes however, is that they are built on words that the rulers know to be false, and on somehow constraining the people to speak and act as if the lies were true. Thus the people hold up the regime by partnering in its lies. Thus, when we use language that is “politically correct” – when we speak words acceptable to the regime even if unfaithful to reality – or when we don’t call out politicians who lie to our faces, we take part in degrading America.

The case in point is Television personality Bill O’Reilly who, in his pre-Super Bowl interview with Barack Obama, suffered the President to tell him – and his audience of millions – that the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups had been a minor “bonehead” mistake in the Cincinnati office, because there is “not even a smidgen of corruption” in that agency. O’ Reilly knew but did not say that both he and the President know this to be a lie, that the key official in the affair, Lois Lerner, had made sure that the IRS’s decision on how to treat the Tea Party matter would be made in Washington by writing: that the matter was “very dangerous” and that “Cincy should probably NOT have these cases.”

obama-and-oreilly_custom-0f32ab71d40f90ffc0322820aa57bbe6ed72e86c-s6-c30

O’ Reilly did not call out the lie. Nor did he just remain silent. Rather, he said of Obama that: “his heart is in the right place.”

I have written in this space: “Obama’s premeditated, repeated, nationally televised lies… are integral, indeed essential, to his presidency and to the workings of the US government.” They are neither innocent opinions nor mistakes. Rather, they grab for power by daring the listener to call them what they are. Failure to do so, never mind gratuitously granting them bona fides, is redefining our regime.

Nasty, brutish – and false – as was the Progressive assault on George W. Bush: e.g. “Bush lied, people died,” Michael Moore’s “Farenheit 9/11,” etc., was very much part of a free society, in which people freely contest each other’ view of reality. Alas, the Progressive ruling class is instituting a regime in which no one may contest what it knows full well to be false without suffering consequences.

How, for example, is one to react to the White House’s explanation for the Congressional Budget Office’s projection that Obamacare will reduce the number of full-time workers in America by some 2.5 million over the next decade? CBO says the law will do this by “creating an implicit tax on additional earnings” – in other words in-kind bonus for unemployment. But the White House, echoed by the New York Times, says that this is a good thing because it will free people, young and old, to pursue careers or retirement without having to worry about health coverage.

This is the sort of thing that one expects from the North Korean regime, explaining that the latest cut in food rations will free people from the tyranny of having to eat more than once a day, or as I heard on Cuban TV in 1969, that the government had cut the meat ration because its scientists had discovered that eating meat causes cancer. One can no more take such things as sincere expressions of mistaken opinions than anyone, Bill O’Reilly foremost, could legitimately take Obama’s statement that the IRS’ targeting of conservatives was a “bonehead mistake” by low level officials in Cincinnati.

Why then do we not call lies lies, and liars liars? Because there are consequences. Had O’Reilly told Obama something like “You know that this is false. You are insulting me by lying to my face. What makes you think that I, or any other American would stand for that?” he would have been ostracized by the Establishment – and lost his prized access to the White House.

For ordinary Americans, calling the regime’s lies by their name, deviating from political correctness, carries far stiffer penalties, because the regime has labeled each such deviation as an antisocial pathology: racism, sexism, homophobia, islamophobia, “denialism,”etc., any of which mark you as an opponent of those who count. They may fire you, pass you over, or just exclude you from that to which you wish to be included.

This is new and incomplete. But only in America. It is the very routine, the very constitution, of totalitarian society. Returning our attention to the indissoluble link between truth and freedom, lies and servitude, was the great Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s enduring contribution to our civilization.

Solzhenitsyn showed that totalitarianism works by leading people to take part in the regime’s lies, and that it does so mostly by a host of petty incentives. Then he wrote: “the simplest and most accessible key to our self-neglected liberation lies right here: Personal non-participation in lies. Though lies conceal everything, though lies embrace everything, but not with any help from me.” The lies that hold up corrupt regimes, he noted, like infections, “can exist only in a living organism.” Hence whoever will live in freedom “will immediately walk out of a meeting, session, lecture, performance or film showing if he hears a speaker tell lies, or purvey ideological nonsense or shameless propaganda.”

We should all do that. Even Bill O’Reilly.

_________________

Angelo M. Codevilla is professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University. He served as a U.S. Senate Staff member dealing with oversight of the intelligence services. His book Peace Among Ourselves and With All Nations is forthcoming from Hoover Institution Press.

"Lie of the Year" – Politifact Gets One Correct

Editor’s Note – Lie of the Year – what a turnaround. The Politfact website has been telling the world that those of us who warned America that the ObamaCare law was going to have very disastrous effects on all of us has had to eat their own words. They correctly did so by declaring Obama to have uttered the “lie of the year”.

However, it should be noted that it was uttered annually since 2009. So does that make it the lie of each the previous four years as well? Remember these whoopers? They kind of pale in comparison now don’t they:

lie-of-the-year

Lie of the Year: ‘If you like your health care plan, you can keep it’

By Angie Drobnic Holan – PolitiFact

It was a catchy political pitch and a chance to calm nerves about his dramatic and complicated plan to bring historic change to America’s health insurance system.

“If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” President Barack Obama said — many times — of his landmark new law.

But the promise was impossible to keep.

So this fall, as cancellation letters were going out to approximately 4 million Americans, the public realized Obama’s breezy assurances were wrong.

Boiling down the complicated health care law to a soundbite proved treacherous, even for its promoter-in-chief.  Obama and his team made matters worse, suggesting they had been misunderstood all along. The stunning political uproar led to this: a rare presidential apology.

For all of these reasons, PolitiFact has named “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” the Lie of the Year for 2013. Readers in a separate online poll overwhelmingly agreed with the choice. (PolitiFact first announced its selection on CNN’s The Lead with Jake Tapper.)Lie of the Year

For four of the past five years, PolitiFact’s Lie of the Year has revolved around the health care law, which has been subject to more erroneous attacks than any other piece of legislation PolitiFact has fact-checked.

Obama’s ideas on health care were first offered as general outlines then grew into specific legislation over the course of his presidency. Yet Obama never adjusted his rhetoric to give people a more accurate sense of the law’s real-world repercussions, even as fact-checkers flagged his statements as exaggerated at best.

Instead, he fought back against inaccurate attacks with his own oversimplifications, which he repeated even as it became clear his promise was too sweeping.

The debate about the health care law rages on, but friends and foes of Obamacare have found one slice of common ground: The president’s “you can keep it” claim has been a real hit to his credibility.

Why the cancellations happened

How did we get to this point?

The Affordable Care Act tried to allow existing health plans to continue under a complicated process called “grandfathering,” which basically said insurance companies could keep selling plans if they followed certain rules.

The problem for insurers was that the Obamacare rules were strict. If the plans deviated even a little, they would lose their grandfathered status. In practice, that meant insurers canceled plans that didn’t meet new standards.

Obama’s team seemed to understand that likelihood. U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the grandfathering rules in June 2010 and acknowledged that some plans would go away. Yet Obama repeated “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” when seeking re-election last year.

In 2009 and again in 2012, PolitiFact rated Obama’s statement Half True, which means the statement is partially correct and partially wrong. We noted that while the law took pains to leave some parts of the insurance market alone, people were not guaranteed to keep insurance through thick and thin. It was likely that some private insurers would continue to force people to switch plans, and that trend might even accelerate.

In the final months of 2013, several critical elements of the health care law were being enacted, and media attention was at its height. Healthcare.gov made its debut on Oct. 1. It didn’t take long for the media, the public and Obama’s own team to realize the website was a technological mess, freezing out customers and generally not working.

Also on Oct. 1, insurers started sending out cancellation letters for 2014.

No one knows exactly how many people got notices, because the health insurance market is largely private and highly fragmented. Analysts estimated the number at about 4 million (and potentially higher), out of a total insured population of about 262 million.

That was less than 2 percent, but there was no shortage of powerful anecdotes about canceled coverage.

One example: PBS Newshour interviewed a woman from Washington, D.C., who was a supporter of the health care law and found her policy canceled. New policies had significantly higher rates. She told Newshour that the only thing the new policy covered that her old one didn’t was maternity care and pediatric services. And she was 58.

“The chance of me having a child at this age is zero. So, you know, I ask the president, why do I have to pay an additional $5,000 a year for maternity coverage that I will never, ever need?” asked Deborah Persico.

The administration’s botched response

Initially, Obama and his team didn’t budge.

First, they tried to shift blame to insurers. “FACT: Nothing in #Obamacare forces people out of their health plans,” said Valerie Jarrett, a top adviser to Obama, on Oct. 28.

PolitiFact rated her statement False. The restrictions on grandfathering were part of the law, and they were driving cancellations.

Then, they tried to change the subject. “It’s important to remember both before the ACA was ever even a gleam in anybody’s eye, let alone passed into law, that insurance companies were doing this all the time, especially in the individual market because it was lightly regulated and the incentives were so skewed,” said White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.

But what really set everyone off was when Obama tried to rewrite his slogan, telling political supporters on Nov. 4, “Now, if you have or had one of these plans before the Affordable Care Act came into law, and you really liked that plan, what we said was you can keep it if it hasn’t changed since the law passed.”

Pants on Fire! PolitiFact counted 37 times when he’d included no caveats, such as a high-profile speechto the American Medical Association in 2009: “If you like your health care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

Even Obama’s staunchest allies cried foul.

On Nov. 6, columnist Clarence Page of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the public “was entitled to hear the unvarnished truth, not spin, from their president about what they were about to face. I don’t feel good about calling out Obama’s whopper, because I support most of his policies and programs. But in this instance, he would have to be delusional to think he was telling the truth.”

The next day, Obama apologized during a lengthy interview with NBC News’ Chuck Todd.

“We weren’t as clear as we needed to be in terms of the changes that were taking place, and I want to do everything we can to make sure that people are finding themselves in a good position, a better position than they were before this law happened. And I am sorry that they are finding themselves in this situation based on assurances they got from me,” he said.

Political fist-fight

The reaction from conservative talk shows was withering. On Nov. 11, Sean Hannity put Obama’s statements up there with President Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook,” and President Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations with that woman.”

On the liberal network MSNBC, Joy-Ann Reid said the Obama administration’s intention was to fight off attacks like the ones that scuttled Clinton’s health proposals in the early 1990s.

“That’s why the administration boiled it down to that, if you like your health care, you can keep it. Big mistake, but it was a mistake that I think came a little bit out of the lesson” of the Clinton years, she said Nov. 12.

Two days later, House minority leader Nancy Pelosi defended Obama’s statement as accurate and blamed insurance companies. “Did I ever tell my constituents that, if they like their plan, they could keep it? I would have, if I’d ever met anybody who liked his or her plan, but that was not my experience,” she said.

Obama offered an administrative fix that same day, allowing state insurance commissioners to extend current plans. But only some have chosen to do so.

In announcing the fix, Obama again conceded he had exaggerated. “There is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate,” he said. “It was not because of my intention not to deliver on that commitment and that promise.  We put a grandfather clause into the law, but it was insufficient.”

It is too soon to say what the lasting impact of “if you like your health care plan, you can keep it” will be.

The president’s favorability ratings have tumbled in recent weeks.

Pew Research/USA Today poll conducted Dec. 3-8 found the percentage of people viewing Obama as “not trustworthy” has risen 15 points over the course of the year, from 30 percent to 45 percent.

Much depends on the law’s continuing implementation and other events during Obama’s final three years in office, said Larry Sabato, a political scientist who runs the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia.

Still, Obama has work to do to win back public trust, Sabato said.

“A whole series of presidents developed credibility gaps, because people didn’t trust what they were saying anymore. And that’s Obama’s real problem,” he said. “Once you lose the trust of a substantial part of the American public, how do you get it back?”