As predicted last year the 2012 election created a cornucopia of lies requiring PaulitiFacts -- and, we assume, our rival professional lie-ratings groups -- to increase their hiring, providing some of the improved employment figures that we have enjoyed.
Here are PaulitiFacts' Top 10 Political Lies for 2012:
1. The Benghazi "CoverUp" Was Worse Than Watergate. Senators John McCain (R-AZ) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) have become the Cisco Kid and Poncho of the Sunday morning yapping programs. Nothing has shown how well they have learned to yap than their outcry over the tragedy at Benghazi, none of which was even remotely true. McCain, second from the bottom of his class at Annapolis, who famously claimed Sarah Palin "knew more about energy than anyone in the country", had the gall to question the intelligence of UN Ambassador Susan Rice, a Rhodes Scholar.
Despite all the politics and lying that occurred in 2013, PaulitiFacts considered McCain's and Grahams' loutish and libelous statements about Benghazi to be the #1 lie of the year for profound reasons. Very much like Vice President Cheney's personal vendetta against Ambassador Wilson that outed his wife, Valerie Plame, as an undercover CIA agent, thereby providing aid-and-comfort to enemies of the United States, McCain's and Graham's verbal assaults resulted in the clueless Darrell Issa (R-CA) Committee in the House to divulge classified information about the CIA's presence in the area. As suggested, one of the key reasons to have Ambassador Rice provide the public statements, rather than anyone directly involved who might have known about the CIA presence, may have been to keep that under wraps.
Country-first John McCain, like Cheney, put his personal interests or vendetta ahead of national security. The McCain/Graham attacks thus qualifies as the #1 lie of 2013.
2. Mitt Romney. Himself. Like all the professional lie-rating agencies PaulitiFacts was overwhelmed with the deliberate and unabashed lies emanating from Mitt Romney and his campaign. His campaign was launched with a lying statement, "President Obama did not cause the recession; he made it worse", and a lying ad, attributing to the president a comment he made about the economy in which he was quoting John McCain. When confronted, Romney asserted that that is what campaigning was all about. His pollster stated that they were not going to let fact-checkers determine the substance of their campaign.
Sure, the jeep ad certainly scaled the heights of lying -- probably the first time in American history that a corporate CEO issued a press release denying a claim by a presidential candidate about his business, to calm the fears of his employees. Yes, the welfare ad was a disgrace. And, so on.
As egregious as these ads were, however, PaulitiFacts believes that its main competitor (PolitiFacts) missed an essential element of the Romney effort by deciding to choose among the lies for the most outrageous. Why does PaulitiFacts consider that a lie-ratings mistake? Because Romney's lies went deeper, consuming his very essence. He not only morphed quickly and absolutely from prior positions on key issues to the opposite, he then tried to "etch-a-sketch" his way back as soon as it was clear that the right-wing would grant him slack for a stealth campaign to win the election.
Romney's claim that his Bain Capital experience provided him relevant insights into our economic system to create jobs was a loophole-filled lie. Mostly, he knew how to game the system to make himself a lot of money. True, Bain invested in a few companies that were successful in creating (mostly) low-wage jobs.
But, Romney made most of his fortune by acquiring controlling interests in companies, using the companies' balance sheets to take out huge loans, paying himself enormous 'consulting fees' out of those loans, and then having his interests purchased by the company also using those loans, leaving the company with huge debts to pay back to creditors, often resulting in bankruptcies and job losses. Having established Bain investment accounts in tax havens helped shelter his gains from US taxes. Romney also invested in a Chinese company whose mission was to take US manufacturing jobs.
Ann Romney's speech at the Republican convention tried portraying themselves, each a child of privilege, each knowing that, no matter what happened to them, they would never ever have to worry financially, as a struggling young family. On "The View" she referenced her sons' Mormon missionary experiences as somehow equivalent to volunteering for Iraq or Afghanistan (which, of course, they never did).
Finally, Romney's eldest child, Tagg, recently claimed that he knew no one who wanted to be president less than his father! Sure, the man who fought to qualify as a Massachusetts resident so he could be governor to earn political credibility; who ran in two bruising primaries; who supposedly turned over his fortune to be managed by a blind trustee to avoid conflicts of interest, and who must have suffered whiplash from the speed he altered his positions... that man had no interest or plans to be president!?
Mitt Romney himself was PaulitiFacts' #2 political lie of 2012.
3. The 2012 election would be close. Granted, strictly speaking, this was a prediction not a lie. But, it was stated so often, by so many quarters, that it became taken as near gospel. Long before the election, indeed in November 2011, PaulitiFacts' founder lodged a vigorous dissent. He predicted exactly what would happen, an election kept "close" by the media so to boost viewers that would shift acutely at the end in a wave-type of election.
It is perhaps useful to provide several perspectives to emphasize the point. Note that the president won by nearly 5 million votes, nearly a 4 percent difference. Electorally, he would have won even without Virginia, Ohio and Florida, and in those other battleground states, he won by 5 percent or more. Democrats also increased their majority in the Senate, picked up House seats, and would have won the House but for the 2010 gerrymander by Republican legislatures, the factor our founder did not take into account.
When it comes to politics, Americans appear to be quite tribal. Regardless of party identification as reported by polls, it appears as if we give the Democratic and Republican nominees each 44 percent of the vote just for being the nominee and having no fatal flaws. President Obama more than doubled Romney's take of the "persuadable" ~11-12 percent.
4. Trickle-down economics works. The Congressional Research Services analyzed 50 years of economic data, and concluded that tax cuts for the wealthy have negligible positive impact on economic growth. Of course, any economist with integrity has known this for decades, but the reason it qualifies for the #4 political lie of the year is what the Republicans did when the report was issued: they had it suppressed.
5. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (aka, "ObamaCare") is unconstitutional. Yes, one could say that it survived by one vote at the Supreme Court and, because the Supreme Court decides what is, and what is not, constitutional, that the challenge to the law was, at least. close. But, it was so clear that the opposing Justices were taking political, as opposed to judicial, positions, that determining the strength of its constitutional underpinnings by the one-vote margin is inappropriate.
Consider the ObamaCare law compared to Medicare. ObamaCare says that each person must either have insurance so that the rest of us do not have to pick up his medical tab OR pay a fine into a pool so we have money to pay that medical tab. How can that possibly be unconstitutional when Medicare, that imposes a tax on everyone to pay for health care for those over 65 or anyone with kidney failure, is clearly constitutional? Justice Scalia's attack -- can the government force everyone to eat broccoli? -- is not even germane as ObamaCare forces no one to have any medical care at all (the equivalent of eating broccoli), it just provides protection against shifting costs of medical care onto those who have taken the trouble to purchase insurance. And, Justice Alito's question -- could the government impose the same requirement as ObamaCare to purchase funeral insurance or pay a fine? -- should have been answered as simply "yes." Were the opponents seriously suggesting that if we had dead bodies lying all over the streets, and those who were paying for burial expenses were paying more because others were paying nothing, that the government could not impose a fine on those who were leaving bodies for others to dispose of?
ObamaCare is, moreover, fully backed by the Court's own precedents. Paul Ryan's VoucherCare is essentially ObamaCare for the elderly who would, under the proposal, surrender Medicare's guaranteed benefits for a declining guaranteed contribution. Thus, Republicans were try to get the elderly to swallow the very program they were calling unconstitutional for those under 65. PaulitiFacts agrees that, in non-election years, this lie would likely rank either #1 or #2.
6. President Obama's smart strategy on taxes/fiscal cliff = Democrats' victory on taxes. Democrats and pundits are deluded. As strategically clever as President Obama has been in setting up this endgame for tax-cuts for the top 2 percent, the ultimate price has been an unspoken concession that the Clinton-era tax rates is a maximum that cannot only not be breached, but cannot even be discussed.
Our big national argument is focused on whether a top tax rate of 35 percent or 39.6 percent is appropriate for adjusted growth incomes in excess of $250,000. That is a total increase in taxes of $5,500 for someone with $500,000 in income.
No discussions are even entertained by Very Serious People that even higher rates should be imposed on higher incomes such as $500,000, $1 Million, $5 Million, $100 Million, $1 Billion. That is significant.
Republicans have figured out that by making much ado about not much at all that they prevent the more important discussion of national revenue needs, sources and trade-offs.
7. The Kochs and the major oil companies are spending millions in lobbying and advertising to win Keystone-XL pipeline approval because they care about U.S. jobs. Does this really need a comment?
8. 'War on Women', What 'War on Women'? Detailing the elements of the war on women by focusing on reproductive health -- from hundreds of laws restricting access to women's constitutional right to an abortion, to attempts to shame women if they seek that procedure, to defunding Planned Parenthood, just outright disrespecting a women's right to control her own health decisions and attempts by the Republican vice-presidential candidate and his rightwing colleagues to redefine rape -- would be a fairly simple undertaking as they were prominently in the news.
But, perhaps even more telling that Republicans are conducting a war on women is their vote against the pay-check fairness act. While proclaiming loudly their support of women -- or, as Ann Romney shouted at the convention, "we love you women" -- they were unwilling to vote for a simple act requiring simple fairness in the workplace. Their explanation was that they did not want to "interfere" in business. So, this is their bottom line: when provided a choice between corporations and their wives, sisters and daughters, Republicans select corporations.
9. The UN Disability Treaty would allow the UN to interfere with home-schooling in the U.S. So much of what emerges from right-wing paranoia is ridiculous that it is often difficult to rank their dishonesty. Their claims about the UN Disability Treaty were, however, particularly egregious because it resulted in defeat of the treaty causing worldwide embarrassment of the United States. The treaty basically internationalized the Americans with Disabilities Act the U.S. pioneered, so that Americans with disabilities traveling abroad might get the same accommodations as they do in the United States. It has no enforcement mechanism. The United States Senate defeated America's own law, in front of former Republican Leader Bob Dole who was disabled from an injury in World War II.
Which is more pathetic, the lies about the treaty from the right-wing echo chamber, or the total cowardice of Republican Senators who did not think they could effectively parry radical attack on such absurd claims?
Anytime someone tries to argue that "both sides are at fault" for Congress's dysfunction, remind them about the Disability Treaty disgrace.
10. Karl Rove's SuperPACs Were Primarily Education/Research Groups. In filings with the IRS, Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS said it would focus half its efforts on "public education," 30 percent on "activity to influence legislation and policymaking" and 20 percent on "research," including sponsoring "in-depth policy research on significant issues."
As is apparent, 2012 was a banner year for political lies, exhausting for the professional lie-ratings agencies. Indeed, it appears that the (mostly Republican) lies will continue to spew forth right up until the buzzer, aka, midnight on December 31.
The entire PaulitiFacts team would like to take this opportunity to wish everyone a happy, healthy and successful 2013 -- even if it must begin after a fall off the cliff.