Paul Ryan Conquers PolitiFact

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Dec. 20 2011 9:46 AM

Paul Ryan Conquers PolitiFact

A couple of weeks ago, I pointed out that Paul Ryan's PAC was asking for fellow-thinkers to take part in Politifact's vote on the "lie of the year." Vote to "ensure the Democrats’ lies about the Path to Prosperity are exposed," he said.

David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

He won.

Lie of the Year 2011: 'Republicans voted to end Medicare'
Advertisement

That's a nice change from last week, or even from last year. Last week, The Weekly Standard gave its cover over to a pungent takedown of "fact-checking" sites, written by Mark Hemingway. I read in it some lingering bitterness over Politifact's 2009 "lie of the year," Sarah Palin's assertion that the Affordable Care Act's rationing component would take the form of "death panels," specifically panels that would kill her mentally disabled son Trig. (I should explain: Sarah Palin is a former governor of Alaska who was politically influential for a while after 2008.)

The irony: Politifact's rationale for pants-on-firing the "ending Medicare" line is as flimsy as anything Hemingway went after. The website lists some of the big, thematic whoppers from Democrats.

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 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.

This is true. The Ryan plan was designed to remove baby boomers from the guillotine, while leaving a less comprehensive premium support system for everyone else. Let's start with the proposition that politicians are hacks -- ads that show old people suffering in comical ways are unfair. Sure. What about the underlying attack, that future retirees wouldn't have a catch-all health care system to count on, and they might have trouble paying bills? The Ryan plan pushes that problem into the future, exempting current retirees.

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

Really, six of one and half a dozen of another. Why is it unfair to say that fundamentally changing something, so that it is nothing like the program that existed before, amounts to "ending" it?

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.