Obama's healthcare 'lie of the year'

Obama talks about the Affordable Care Act at a press conference on November 14, 2013. Obama's 'lie of the year' has conservatives crying foul

On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Times' fact-checking site PolitiFact awarded President Obama's statement, "If you like your healthcare plan, you can keep it", as its "Lie of the Year".

"Thanks for nothing," was the general consensus among conservative commentators.

In her article on the choice, PolitiFact's Angie Drobnic Holan writes:

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.

The announcement prompted considerable scorn from the right.

"So PolitiFact says the president's keep-your-health-plan promise is the lie of the year," write the editors of Investors Business Daily. "And indeed it is. But where was PolitiFact four years ago when the lie was first uttered and calling it a lie meant something?"

If PolitiFact had called the statement a lie during the drive to pass the Affordable Care Act, they argue, maybe it would never have become law.

"On the one hand, it is good that PolitiFact is holding the president account for a lie involving such a major and far-reaching law," writes Sean Higgins of the Washington Examiner. "But Holan's column gave her readers the impression that PolitiFact has been on the case regarding this for quite a while, stating that 'fact-checkers flagged (Obama's) statements as exaggerated at best.'"

On the contrary, he writes, Politifact rated Obama's previous statements as either "half-true" or "true": "It rated him on the basis of whether he was accurately stating his own campaign promise, a hurdle no politician could fail to clear."

Start Quote

It was wrong even to make a pretense of "fact checking" a statement that was, at the time, not a factual claim”

End Quote James Taranto The Wall Street Journal

James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal writes that the problem with PolitiFact and other "fact checking" sites is that they use editorial judgment, and bias, in determining what is and isn't the truth:

One might have reasonably suspected, in 2008 and certainly in 2009 and 2012, that Obama was lying. But one could not prove it, because it was not yet a factual assertion. In 2008 it was but a promise, which Obama might or might not have intended and might or might not have been able to keep. By 2012, we now know, it was a full-fledged fraud, but exposing it conclusively as such would have required a degree of expertise few journalists have.

In other words, it's not that PolitiFact was wrong to withhold its jejune "pants on fire" designation from the Obama statement in 2008, 2009 and 2012. It was wrong even to make a pretense of "fact checking" a statement that was, at the time, not a factual claim. Its past evaluations of the statement were not "fact checks" at all, merely opinion pieces endorsing ObamaCare.

Tim Graham, with the conservative media watchdog group Media Research Center, echoes Mr Taranto's argument: "PolitiFact has only drawn a yellow Hi-Liter through what's wrong with liberal media-elite 'fact checking' patrols: It exploits their 'objective' image as it declares a campaign promise as factual (or not) prematurely, before there's any factual reality to judge. "

Start Quote

Obama's promise about keeping your health care plan actually has a lot of truth to it”

End Quote Kevin Drum Mother Jones

And, for good measure, here's Allapundit on the blog HotAir:

The fact that it took until 2013 for them to identify "if you like your plan" as a mammoth lie is proof that the media's collectively either out of its depth in analysing policy - even when scores of conservative policy experts were willing and able to help them identify problems with the law - or uninterested for political reasons in recognizing the law's flaws until they're so glaring that they can't plausibly be ignored. This really is the Lie of the Year, and outfits like PolitiFact are entirely complicit in it.

Kevin Drum of Mother Jones provides a liberal counterpoint to conservative criticisms:

If you ask me, the real takeaway from this list is that 2013 was a pretty good year for lies. Seriously. Obama's promise about keeping your health care plan actually has a lot of truth to it. In the end, probably no more than 1 percent of American adults will end up being forced to switch to a health care plan that's either more expensive or provides less coverage than their current plan. Obama was obviously more unequivocal than he should have been, but really, this has never been much of a lie.

But it was apparently the biggest of the year. I don't know if American politicians made up for that by telling an unusually large number of little lies, but it sure looks like we had a pretty good year for avoiding whoppers.

CNN's Brianna Keilar asked White House press secretary Jay Carney about Politifact's "award", and he said that Mr Obama had addressed the question and expressed his sympathy for those who have had their individual market healthcare plans cancelled. "End-of-the-year categorisations like that are always fun, even when they don't jive with past characterizations of the same exact statement," he said. "But, we're focused on the implementation of the Affordable Care Act."

For now, conservatives are focused on telling the "left-wing hack site" Politifact how they really feel.



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  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Just another example of why Obama is "all hat and no cattle" as they say in Texas.

  • Comment number 20.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 19.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 18.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    If Pres. Obama can be faulted for anything, it’s not lying; it’s for not using his best judgment when he promised something he actually had little or no control over. He obviously had good intentions, but unfortunately, as the old saying goes: ‘The road to hell is paved with good intentions’ – so is the road to political oblivion.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Having lived in the USA for 7 years , I can see the need for change. The health care system benefits insurance companies, those that work in health care and the pharmaceutical industry. Leaving those who work paying very expensive premiums - I pay for a family $450 a month we still have to pay to visit the doctors ($40). Basically it pays not to be ill oh I forgot the $7000 deductible.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Should we expect the truth from the same person that condemned George Bush for exercising Executive Privilege only to use the same powers within a matter of months, and the same person who spoke out against NSA surveillance under Bush only to EXPAND the program, and the same person that knows nothing about what goes on within his very own IRS, Justice Department or Health and Human Services?

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Here's another negative impact that no one has discussed: even if Obamacare survives this debacle, consider how much "disposable income" will be removed from the economy when 90% of our citizens will be paying 40%-100% more for health insurance? That's money that won't be spent on new cars, appliances, and dinners out with the family. The total impact has not yet been felt.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Once you accept the fact that the president has no real qualifications to be the president, then you must accept the fact that he has no concept of truth, because "truth" is what he says it is. His ego is so large, and the people he has surrounded himself with have lead him down this downward spiral of lies. The president truly believes he can talk his way out of anything!

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    Same here in the UK, if the left leaning media BBC had been at all interested in investigating Brown and his fellow incompetents when they were destroying the British economy, then perhaps the fall out from the finicial crisis would not have been so severe
    But they were too ready to believe the lie and then push it onto the public because they believe the same dogma of misinformation or spin

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    In the marketing business there’s a phenomenon referred to as: “Telling the truth in advance”. Sometimes, however, if the truth doesn’t materialize as promised the practice can get you into trouble. That’s precisely what happened to Obama. The lesson is unless you’re absolutely certain you can deliver, don’t attempt to tell the truth in advance; it may be perceived as a lie.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    OMG. It was a lie. They were all lies. From 2009 to 2013. Didn't you see him, don't you remember him? He's a lawyer & a professional speecher. Come on. The biggest lie was not this year but last year when the country's elected professional candidate said at the 10/4/12 debate "If you've got health insurance...you keep your own insurance. You keep your own doctor." You really think he didn't know??

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if those we elect to Congress acted for the benefit of the country rather than the benefit of their party? I live in the US & I am often ashamed that I do. They are politicians, they all lie. Move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    A lie repeated many times over at many different road shows or simply rank incompetence? I can't decide which is worse.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Obama didn't know his statement was false? Seriously, that's the best defense his supporters can come up with? Somehow I can't find the comfort in the assertion that the president wasn't lying when that would mean his lack of knowledge of the consequences of his master plan for health care would mean that he was, to be polite, inept.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    The continuous denial from Obama's supporters…. I've never seen anything like it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    First of all President Obama isn't a liar. At the time he thought, we could keep our plans, if we liked them. None of us want to keep a plan that wouldn't have adequate coverage??
    Apparently, he was told keeping the plan we had, would be an option. What it the problem, with having adequate coverage?
    I guess people should be able to keep a terrible plan. They deserve it. Your an echo chamber.THINK

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    If this had been a White president, he would be impeached and removed from office. Obama routinely lies and makes egregious statements that are ignored by the media and the Republicans. We went from a Liar in George Bush to a perpetual liar in Barack Obama. He committed Fraud. And, I lost my health insurance due to ObamaCare. Now I am on Medicaid and paying nothing for substandard care.

  • rate this

    Comment number 3.

    I have two friends in the US who have lost their health care cover & now have to pay more than double their previous insurance premium.
    Neither are by any measure well paid & their new costs are more than 20% of their income thanks to the "Affordable Care Act".

    So yes; Obama lied.

  • Comment number 2.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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