PolitiFact Rates Obama, Schumer 'Half True' When They Mislead; GOP Senator 'Mostly False'

PolitiFact is parading around again wearing its factual underwear outside their pants on health care policy. They gave Barack Obama a “Half True” rating for something not even close to true.... but a few weeks ago gave Republican Sen. Ron Johnson a “Mostly False” on Medicaid expansion even though they admitted “The numbers are more or less correct.”

On Monday’s PolitiFact’s Manuela Tobias (edited by PolitiFact boss Angie Holan) reviewed an announcement by former president Obama selling people on the wonders of what the media calls his “signature achievement.”

"It only takes a few minutes and the vast majority of people qualify for financial assistance," Obama says. "Eight in 10 people this year can find plans for $75 a month or less."

Can 8 in 10 people get health coverage for $75 a month or less? It depends on who those 10 people are.

The statistic only refers to people currently enrolled in HealthCare.gov.

That’s not most Americans. Only 3.7 percent of Americans under the age of 65 are enrolled in the marketplace exchanges. So 80 percent of that sliver can find plans for under $75.

So Obama’s sales number excluded 96.3 percent of Americans under 65. But somehow he’s “Half True”?! The article concluded with this summary:

This is already a highly self-selected group, as participation in the exchanges declines dramatically as subsidy eligibility decreases. It ignores a majority of the American population because they are enrolled elsewhere, and a large portion of those who could but choose not to use the site because they don’t qualify for subsidies.

While enrollees' eligibility for plans under $75 has increased by 9 percentage points from last year, the people who qualify for subsidies hasn’t changed.

We rate this statement Half True.

Even PolitiFact's graphic underlines how dramatically Obama misleads on Obamacare:

As Bryan White argued at PolitifactBias,com, “PolitiFact might as well be saying ‘Yes, he misled people, but for a noble purpose!’”

On September 28, PolitiFact’s Tom Kertscher was much less accomodating to Sen. Ron Johnson. 

On Sept. 25, 2017, the Wisconsin Republican said on National Public Radio: "Currently, it's really been quite unfair. I know that California, New York and Massachusetts, they represent about 20 percent of the population, they get close to 36 percent of Obamacare funding. It's just simply inequitable."

It was a claim Johnson had also made twice on MSNBC and on Milwaukee television.

And his three fellow co-sponsors of the latest Republican bill to overhaul Obamacare also made the statement a number of times to national media.

So, what about the talking point?

The numbers are more or less correct.

But there’s one simple reason that explains most of the discrepancy:

Those three states -- unlike Wisconsin and some others -- opted to take the additional federal funding offered by Obamacare to states that expanded Medicaid.

Why the "more or less" correct, when you could just say "correct"? In any of the other 47 states, they might find it shocking that just three blue states are getting 36 percent of Obamacare funding. The article ended this way:

He’s more or less correct on the numbers. But the main reason is that those three were among states that -- unlike Wisconsin and some others -- opted through Obamacare to expand Medicaid and take the additional federal funding that came with it.

For a statement that contains only an element of truth, our rating is Mostly False.

PolitiFact could change its name to "Only An Element of Truth." Obviously, Johnson's argument was much more "correct on the numbers" than Obama, but PolitiFact has this recurring tendency to stick the Falses on the Republicans much more aggressively. Overall,  Obama has landed on the Mostly False/False/Pants on Fire side of the line only about 25 percent of the time. 

Let me throw in one more recent health-care example. On October 6, PolitiFact gave Sen. Charles Schumer a "Half True" for claiming "The Republicans are proposing to pay for their giant tax cut to the rich by gutting Medicare and Medicaid." How is this "Half True," when they posted a Senate Budget Committee chart that underlines the ongoing fraud of "cuts" in these programs? A program that would grow 82 percent under Republicans is "gutted"?????

But PF lamely concluded: 

Schumer has overstated the linkage between the proposed tax and spending cuts. In addition, his decision to highlight Medicare and Medicaid cuts with the vivid word "gutting" leaves the impression that such reductions are a drastic reshaping and are likelier to occur than they actually are.

We rate his statement Half True.


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