Jim covered Congress and The White House during the George W. Bush administration for The Washington Times, and worked as a reporter, editorial writer and columnist for newspapers in Pennsylvania, Virginia, and California. He has appeared on the Fox News Channel, CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, and many local and national talk radio shows to talk politics and policy.
Latest posts by Jim Lakely (see all)
PolitiFact holds itself up as an objective arbiter of “truth” and “lies” in America’s political discourse. But, like any organ played by the MSM, this project of The St. Petersburg Times is inclined to succumb to institutional liberal bias. PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” award for 2010 is a great example.
PolitiFact’s selection is the phrase: “the government take-over of health care.” (Politifact, the 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner in the “National Reporting” category, seems to be obsessed with running interference for Obama on this subject. The “Lie of the Year” in 2009 was “death panels.”)
Heartland Institute Senior Fellow Peter Ferrara wrote a book about Obamacare. It features a whole chapter explaining in great detail how Obamacare is a government take-over of American health care. But it’s good to see so many on the right side of the blogosphere take Peter’s same tack to lay into Politifact on its latest award.
Peter Suderman at Reason might have the most comprehensive and acerbic rebuttal (though this is a close contest):
If you want to point out that the GOP stretched this one, then by all means go ahead. The PPACA wasn’t strictly a government takeover of the entire health care system. No, it was just a dramatic increase in government regulation, oversight, and control of many parts of the system. (emphasis his) …
Meanwhile, our rigorous team of fact-checkers [PolitiFact] even introduce a misleading statement of their own when they claim that “the law Congress passed…relies largely on the free market.”
The only way this is true is if you utterly fail to distinguish between the concepts of “the free market” and “a highly regulated private sector,” which is a far more accurate description of what the health care law relies on to accomplish its goals.
Peter’s piece is really worth a full read.
From the editorial page of The Wall Street Journal:
Evidently, it doesn’t count as a government takeover unless the means of production are confiscated. “The government will not seize control of hospitals or nationalize doctors,” and while “it’s true that the law does significantly increase government regulation of health insurers,” they’ll still be nominally private too.
In fact—if we may use that term without PolitiFact’s seal of approval—at the heart of ObamaCare is a vast expansion of federal control over how U.S. health care is financed, and thus delivered. The regulations that PolitiFact waves off are designed to convert insurers into government contractors in the business of fulfilling political demands, with enormous implications for the future of U.S. medicine. All citizens will be required to pay into this system, regardless of their individual needs or preferences. Sounds like a government takeover to us.
Karl over at Hot Air:
Let’s start with the straw man that “a ‘government takeover’ conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees.” By this measure, there has been no government takeover of healthcare in countries like France or Switzerland. Even in England, most doctors, dentists, optometrists and other providers of local healthcare are self-employed, and contract their services back to the NHS. If PolitiFact wants to invoke the “European approach” to healthcare, it might help if they could accurately describe it.
As long as the press corps is nominating “lies of the year,” ours goes to the formal legislative title of ObamaCare, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. For a bill that in reality will raise health costs and reduce patient choice, the name recalls Mary McCarthy’s famous line about every word being a lie, including “the” and “and.”
It’s hard to top that stuff. But when I read all these takes on PolitiFact’s “Lie of the Year” today, it reinforced for me how liberals don’t understand basic human freedom. They do not understand it at the most fundamental level: Coercion by government — no matter how subtle, or, in the case of Obamacare, not so subtle — defines the usurpation of our individual liberty. There is no getting around that. But liberal arguments are aided by the fact that Americans’ concept of what freedom really means has been numbed by the slow (and, at the time, seemingly benign) progression of the modern regulation state.
To any American with a proper appreciation of liberty, Obamacare is nothing but a “government take-over” of an individual’s health care arrangements — which is the only definition that matters. Let’s try another analogy: What if “Obamacare” was “Obamafood”?
Let’s say the federal government imposed price and wage controls in World War II that forced businesses to provide “food insurance” in lieu of additional wages. And a system developed in which private companies moved in to serve as a third-party payer for food. After decades of federal regulation of food (taken initially, of course, as a “temporary emergency” measure), America’s food-delivery system is so convoluted that the price of basic staples is ridiculously inflated.
So, as a “cost-cutting measure” — and with the pretense of ensuring all Americans can afford food — a new president and Congress establish a law that makes all farmers and grocers government contractors who must obey Washington (instead of the consumer) for guidance on how to deliver food. Oh, and every American can either pay for “food insurance” directed by the government, or they are penalized by a tax for their intransigence.
That scenario applied to health care, says PolitiFact, is not a “government take-over”? Please. It’s a bit like a 12-year-old school boy telling his classmate that he’s not really “grounded,” no matter what his parents say. In America (by God!), he’s still free to go out and play.
In other words, the people who run PolitiFact have the reasoning skills of a 12-year-old. The bad news PolitiFact won’t acknowledge: Obamacare makes us all the government’s children.