PoliFact Calls Out Dems For 2011 Political Lie Of Year

Skewering the truth is nothing new in politics. But for most of 2011, Congressional Democrats, the Obama administration and their surrogates have been completely disingenuous with regard to Rep. Paul Ryan's Medicare reform plan. Bill Adair at PoliFact has more:

PolitiFact editors chose the Democratic line that Republicans voted "to end Medicare" as the 2011 Lie of the Year.

We define the Lie of the Year as the most significant falsehood, the one that had the most impact on the political discourse.

We discussed each of the other finalists and concluded that while clearly false, they failed to be as significant as the Medicare claim, which ignored the fact that people 55 and older would remain on traditional Medicare and that even with the privatized system under Ryan's bill, younger people would still receive a guarantee of care.

And more than any of our other finalists, the Medicare claim had staying power. The Democrats launched it just four days after the House vote in April and then repeated it many times all year. It was the latest chapter in a long-running "Mediscare" strategy to frighten senior citizens that their benefits are in jeopardy if they support Republicans.

As we were concluding our reporting for our Lie of the Year story last week, Ryan announced that he was altering his plan and would retain an option for people to stay in traditional Medicare if they want.

His announcement of a bipartisan effort with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., changes the dynamic in the polarized debate and could increase the likelihood that Congress adopts his approach.

Matt Miller, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Center for American Progress, wrote that Ryan "has plausibly inoculated his party against a full-frontal Mediscare campaign. Or at least he gives Republicans a credible rebuttal to neutralize it."

But Ryan's latest tactic doesn't affect our decision on Lie of the Year. The statements made about his original plan were clearly inaccurate, they were repeated by many Democrats and they perpetuated a 60-year tactic in using false claims to scare seniors.

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published this page in In The News 2011-12-20 01:24:00 -0500
Analysis & Political Strategy