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September 13, 2011

Who Fact-Checks The Fact-Checkers?

AP works overtime for Team Barack.

MICHELE BACHMANN: Obama "stole over $500 billion out of Medicare to switch it over to Obamacare. ... These are programs that need to be saved to serve people, and in their current form, they can't."

ROMNEY: "He cut Medicare by $500 billion. This is a Democrat president. The liberal, so to speak, cut Medicare. Not Republicans, the Democrat."

THE FACTS: "Stole" is a hyperbolic way to describe the kinds of shifts in budget priorities that happen every day in Washington. To pay for expanded insurance coverage, Obama's health care law cuts $500 billion in payments to the Medicare Advantage program, which a congressional agency said was being overpaid and to hospitals and nursing homes. Nearly all House Republicans, including Bachmann, later voted for a GOP budget plan that retained the same cuts Obama had made.

Interesting point here -- on CNN, when a similar "fact-check" was done, the $500 billion was misstated -- repeatedly, and with text on a chart -- as $500 million.

CNN's own "fact-checkers" understated the problem by three orders of magnitude, claiming Obama had cut one one thousandth of what he'd actually cut.

So there's "fact-checking," right there.

As to the AP: They too pretend that "stole" is some sort of fact-checkable word. (CNN dwelled on this.)

The AP does not state which "congressional agency" said that Medicare Advantage was being overpaid. They cite this "agency" as if it's a nonpartisan, independent source, when in fact at the time Democrats controlled Congress. So they're citing a Democrat-controlled agency for the proposition that Democrats were right to cut half a trillion from Medicare Advantage.

Does anyone believe the AP would cite Daryl Issa's subcommittee as an authoritative source to check the facts in Fast and Furious?

Either way, this is true, and cannot be repeated enough: Obama stole, or "repurposed," or whatever euphemism you like, half a trillion dollars from senior health care to pay for ObamaCare.

But the Democrats are going to run on Mediscare, huh?

PERRY: The $814 billion economic stimulus program pushed by President Barack Obama "created zero jobs."

THE FACTS: There is no support for that assertion. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said last year that the stimulus increased the number of people employed by between 1.4 million and 3.3 million as of mid-2010. It cut the unemployment rate between 0.7 and 1.8 percentage points, the CBO found.

Economists debate whether the stimulus lived up to its promise or was worth the cost, but no one seriously argues that it created no jobs. Many believe it helped to end the recession even while falling short of its employment goals.

There is plenty of support for this assertion: Fewer Americans are employed today than when Obama took office in 2009. Right there, that seems to strongly support the idea that "zero" jobs were created, and in fact, suggests that jobs were destroyed.

Look at the exact word Perry used -- "created." Perry is talking about jobs created.

Is that what the AP is talking about?

No. The AP obscures this by avoiding the phrase "saved or created," but when they write "increased the number of people employed" they are deliberately avoiding what they mean -- "saved or created." It is the "saved or created" estimates that yield that fanciful 1.4-3.3 million figure.

Quick question, AP: How does Obama's "saved or created" figure stack up with Bush's? Or Clinton's? Or the first Bush's?

Trick question, of course, as there are no "saved or created" figures for those Presidents. The "saved or created" figure was invented by Obama, and thusfar has been applied to exactly one president.

When they speak of Bush only creating one million net jobs through his presidency, note they do not add in the number of jobs he might have also "saved."

This is critical, because all previous presidents were held to account by strict, simple arithmetic: Number of jobs existing at the end of your term minus number of jobs existing at the beginning of your term equals your net job creation (or loss).

It is only President Precious who added in the "or saved" figure, and this can only be estimated, and of course we employ liberal economists' formulas for guessing how government spending translates to job "saving" for this.

Obama has lost jobs while President. Period. That is the only statistic that has ever before mattered, net jobs created or lost. There is no third category of "saved," and even if there were, one would have to calculate previous presidents' "saved or created" numbers (much more generous!) to find an apples-to-apples comparison.

Instead, the AP and Obama and the rest of the media insist on this apples-to-orange comparison.

Note how dishonest they are -- if they wrote "saved or created" in their "fact-check," it would be immediately clear that they were shifting the terms of comparison from Perry's correct, historically-justified "created" terminology, to Obama's invented, obscuring, overly-generous "saved or created" figure.

So instead of alerting the reader that the terms of comparison are being shifted, they re-write "saved or created" to "increased employment."

This is a lie. By the standard jobs now minus jobs originally figure that all other presidents have suffered by (or even profited by), Obama is a net-jobs loser, a net-jobs destroyer.

By the conventional way of figuring this, Perry is wrong. Obama did not create "zero" jobs; he created negative million and a half jobs, or whatever the current grim figure is.

In fact, since so much comparison is made of Perry's job creation vs. Obama's -- if we're discussing Obama's saved or created jobs, then to have an apples-to-apples comparison we must stop talking about the jobs Perry merely created (something like 450,000 over the past two years) and add to that figure the jobs he also "saved."

For surely he, like Obama, must have "saved" some. In an ailing economy, many restaurants would go under, and many construction workers would be laid off; surely the 450,000 jobs actually added "saved" a great many more jobs that otherwise would have been lost!

So why does the media never think to calculate Perry's "saved or created" figure? Why does Perry get the hard standard -- a simple subtraction of jobs we know exist now, minus jobs that existed two years ago; a perfectly factual determination -- whereas Obama gets to add in this guestimation fudge-factor of jobs he imagines he may have had a role in not losing?

Why don't other politicians get this easy-peasy fudge factor? Romney had a not-so-good-jobs creation record as governor of Massachusetts; but what would his saved or created record be?

Better, of course; it has to be.

If Obama can "save" 1.4 to 3.3 million jobs while actually losing 2.5 million jobs, think how many more Romney "saved" while creating 100,000, or how very many Perry "saved" while creating 450,000 over just two years!

And yet, no one thinks to do these calculations at AP or CNN. One special soft-bigotry-of-low-expectations standard for Obama; a much tougher standard -- the normal, conventional one used for every other office holder in American history -- for everyone else.

And yet, even by this standard -- Obama's awful.


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posted by Ace at 10:45 AM

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