Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Let's play 'Ignore the Expert' again

After finding it "Barely True" that Bill and Hillary Clinton were "dead broke" when they left the White House, it's no surprise that PolitiFact similarly jumps all over hapless Vice President Joe Biden for his claim that he has no savings account and no stocks or bonds.

PolitiFact tries to make these blue-collar public servants look like Bill Gates or something.  They gave Biden a "Half True" for his claim since he has a joint savings account with his wife, Jill Biden (Mrs. Biden has a number of other savings accounts to which the vice president apparently has no access).

So Biden says he has no savings account but he has one.  So that part's false.  And he says he has no stocks or bonds.  So that part must be true, since false plus true equals "Half True"?

Which brings us to our favorite part.  PolitiFact simply ignores one of the experts it cited.  Biden admits he has a pension.  PolitiFact cites George Pennacchi, finance professor at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign:
(P)ension funds invest in stocks and bonds or other assets, Pennacchi said.

"Thus, it is inescapable that Mr. Biden’s wealth is both directly and indirectly linked to stock and bond investments," Pennacchi said.
So maybe it's not true that Biden has no stocks or bonds. Except PolitiFact says it's true (bold emphasis added):
Biden said, "I don't own a single stock or bond... I have no savings accounts."

Biden was wrong to say that he doesn't have a savings account because he shares one with his wife. However, he doesn't have ownership over any stocks and bonds -- those all belong to his wife. We rate his statement Half True.
Contrary to Mr. Pennacchi's claim, PolitiFact is able to escape the direct and indirect links between Biden's wealth and stock and bond investments.

Layers of editors and stuff. Take a bow, PolitiFact. Great stuff.

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