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Calling The Truth A Lie

By The Reverend Published: December 21, 2011

Let's do a thought experiment, shall we?

Let's say that McDonald's comes out with a 'new and improved' Big Mac. The Big Mac sandwich has been around for quite awhile now and despite it's continued popularity, McDonald's decides to "save" the iconic sandwich by reforming, remodeling the classic, 39 grams-of-fat, double hamburger.

In my hypothetical, McDonald's plan for revamping the Big Mac includes eliminating the center bun, the sesame seeds on the bun, the pickles, the lettuce, the cheese, the special sauce, and one of the hamburger patties. The new Big Mac has a single hamburger pattie, ketchup, and a slice of onion all on a wheat bun. When McDonald's rolls out it's 'new and improved' Big Mac, the price has also changed. Now the Big Mac costs 40% more than before.

In spite of what appears to be an entirely different sandwich from the Big Mac, McDonald's continues to market the sandwich as the Big Mac. When consumers of grease-infused, fast food hamburgers repeatedly point out that the new sandwich from McDonald's is NOT really a Big Mac at all....Politifact, an alleged online exposer of lies, is called in to settle the issue. Politifact is to look at the evidence and conclude whether McDonald's calling the 'new and improved' sandwich a Big Mac is a lie, or you know, not.

Politifact concludes, in my hypothetical, that not only is McDonald's sandwich still a Big Mac, but that anyone who says it isn't is lying.

Seems kind of crazy....but that's exactly what the compromised online lie detector outfit, Politifact, has done over claims that Paul Ryan's plan to reform Medicare will end Medicare. In fact, Politifact has made the line "Republicans voted to end Medicare" it's lie of the year.

In April the new GOP-controlled House thought that they would go ahead and swing for the fences. So, Paul Ryan (R-WI) introduced his new budget....and within that budget was a plan to revamp Medicare. All but 5 GOP House members voted to pass the Ryan budget...and zero Democrats. In Ryan's new and improved plan for Medicare, the federal government would no longer be the single service provider for processing health care claims by America's seniors. In fact, the government would only send out vouchers to seniors, that's it. Seniors would then be expected to take those vouchers and purchase their own private insurance each year from for-profit insurance companies. The conclusion by the Congressional Budget office was that Ryan's 'new and improved' plan for reforming Medicare would cost each senior, on average, an additional $6000 per year out of pocket.

Republicans said that the Ryan plan "saved" Medicare. Democrats and progressives claimed Ryan's plan would "end Medicare". Politifact is claiming that any statement which says that Ryan's plan "ends Medicare" is a lie. The lie of the year, in fact.

Here are the three justifications by Politifact that Democrats and progressives were lying when they said that Ryan's plan ends Medicare....

• They ignored the fact that the Ryan plan would not affect people currently in Medicare -- or even the people 55 to 65 who would join the program in the next 10 years.

• They used harsh terms such as "end" and "kill" when the program would still exist, although in a privatized system.

• They used pictures and video of elderly people who clearly were too old to be affected by the Ryan plan. The DCCC video that aired four days after the vote featured an elderly man who had to take a job as a stripper to pay his medical bills.

See? The Big Mac is still the Big Mac...even though it isn't. It is because McDonald's says it is....and on no other basis could my hypothetical, new and improved Big Mac be considered a Big Mac.

It's the same with Ryan's Medicare remodel. Simply claiming that privatized and more expensive Medicare is still Medicare is comparable to calling the entirely different Big Mac in my thought experiment...a Big Mac. Republicans, and their faux-lie-detecting allies, say that Ryan's privatizing of Medicare leaves Medicare as Medicare, despite its having no resemblance to traditional Medicare. And Knee Pad equipped Politifact arrives right on time to

fellate Republicans argue that what Ryan is selling is...swear-to-god...still Medicare....and that overreaching Democrats are the liars of the year for claiming Ryan's plan "ends Medicare."

Makes as much sense as this....

"According to (PolitiFact's) logic, if the FBI were replaced with a voucher program wherein citizens would receive subsidies for hiring private investigators to look into criminal activity, but the agency running the voucher program were still called the FBI, it would be unfair to say that the FBI had been ended," wrote Jed Lewison for Daily Kos. "I guess it's their right to make that argument, but it's transparently absurd."

Not just "absurd"....but "transparently" so.

Steve Benen notes that not only are claims that Ryan's plan "ends Medicare" true....but also how audacious Politifact acts when it claims the opposite and then makes the Democratic claim the "lie of the year."

Finally....the question of why Politifact decided to humiliate themselves. My favorite economist lays it all out. It's the false equivalency justification....

The answer is, of course, obvious: the people at Politifact are terrified of being considered partisan if they acknowledge the clear fact that there’s a lot more lying on one side of the political divide than on the other. So they’ve bent over backwards to appear “balanced” — and in the process made themselves useless and irrelevant.

The Liar of the Year award goes to Politifact.

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