2010 Lie of the Year

Politifact has chosen "government takeover of health care" as its lie of the year when fact checking political representations. It was a target rich environment.

In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama's ambitious plan to overhaul America's health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a "government takeover."

"Takeovers are like coups," Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. "They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom."

The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the "public option" concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.

But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn't let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.

PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen "government takeover of health care" as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections.

It should come as no surprise which media outlet was the largest purveyor of disinformation.

The Republican noise machine got an extra boost this year from the Citizen's United case overruling the widely popular McCain/Feingold limitation on election spending by third parties. Unlimited independent expenditures enabled camouflobbyists to open the money spigot which had the effect of hooking the Republican noise machine to an amplifier that goes to 11. The worst consequence of this effective use of media control is that now the tea baggers all believe all the false Orwellian rhetoric has been validated, leading to bizarro world, where up is down. In this environment Republicans are able to engineer a widely unpopular debt exploding giveaway to rich people as a good thing.

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What part of arithmetic do you not get?

1: I got mine.

You don't even need +1 or equals 2.