By Bill Adair, Angie Drobnic Holan, December 20th, 2011 (excerpts)
Republicans muscled a budget through the House of Representatives in April that they said would take an important step toward reducing the federal deficit. Introduced by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the plan kept Medicare intact for people 55 or older, but dramatically changed the program for everyone else by privatizing it and providing government subsidies.
Democrats pounced. Just four days after the party-line vote, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released a Web ad that said seniors will have to pay $12,500 more for health care "because Republicans voted to end Medicare."
Rep. Steve Israel of New York, head of the DCCC, appeared on cable news shows and declared that Republicans voted to "terminate Medicare." A Web video from the Agenda Project, a liberal group, said the plan would leave the country "without Medicare" and showed a Ryan look-alike pushing an old woman in a wheelchair off a cliff. And just last month, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a fundraising appeal that said: "House Republicans’ vote to end Medicare is a shameful act of betrayal."….
PolitiFact debunked the Medicare charge in nine separate fact-checks rated False or Pants on Fire, most often in attacks leveled against Republican House members.
Now, PolitiFact has chosen the Democrats’ claim as the 2011 Lie of the Year….
The Democratic attack about "ending Medicare" was a pervasive line in 2011 that preyed on seniors' worries about whether they could afford health care….
Democrats and liberals overreached:
- 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 harsh terms such as "end" and "kill" when the program would still exist, although in a privatized system.
- 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.
PolitiFact was not alone. Other independent fact-checkers also said the claim was false.
"Medicare would remain an entitlement program, but it would also be more costly to future beneficiaries. It would not end," noted FactCheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The Washington Post’s Fact Checker concluded that while there’s "a worthwhile debate" about whether Ryan’s proposal should be adopted, "it is not true to claim Republicans are trying to ‘kill’ Medicare."…
Kathleen Hall Jamieson, an expert on campaign advertising who directs the Annenberg center at the University of Pennsylvania, says Democrats have been using falsehoods and exaggerations about Medicare and Social Security since at least 1952. She calls it the longest-running "Democratic deception."….
read … Lie of the Year
Bonus Story: Obama Claims to Be Fourth-best President Ever, Sixty Minutes Leaves Claim out of Program