Tuesday, March 8, 2016

PolitiFact judges job-killers

What's new from "Objective, Nonpartisan" PolitiFact?

The expert fact-checkers/liberal bloggers at PolitiFact show everyone how to figure out whether legislation kills jobs.

PolitiFact uses two methods. The first method shows whether the Affordable Care Act caused job loss. The second method shows whether the North American Free Trade Agreement caused job loss.

Here's PolitiFact's method for the ACA, from a fact check of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas, bold emphasis added):
Cruz said that Obamacare cost the country millions of jobs and had forced millions into working part-time.

The government’s employment surveys show no sign of that occurring. By every measure, millions more people are working and millions fewer are stuck unwillingly in part-time work since the time the Affordable Care Act became law. The law might have affected part-time work for certain kinds of people, but that didn’t change the improvement in the overall numbers.
PolitiFact apparently reasons that if that overall employment numbers improved then it doesn't count toward Cruz's point that "The law might have affected part-time work for certain kinds of people."

Here's PolitiFact's method for NAFTA, as related in a fact check of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.):
Sanders said that NAFTA, which Clinton used to support, cost the U.S. economy 800,000 jobs. There is a report from a left-leaning policy group that reached that conclusion. On the other hand, many other nonpartisan reports found that the trade deal produced neither significant job losses nor job gains. This is a result of competing economic models and the challenges of teasing out the effects of NAFTA from everything else that has taken place in the economy.

The report Sanders cited is an outlier, and his use of its findings ignores important facts that would give a different impression. We rate his statement Mostly False.
The biggest difference between the two methods comes from PolitiFact's reliance on raw employment numbers when checking the claim from Cruz. Raw employment numbers were a non-factor in checking Sanders but the key to giving a "Pants on Fire" rating to Cruz.

PolitiFact cited studies supporting and contradicting Sanders, but gave no evidence supporting Cruz. The fact check of Cruz omitted mention of a Congressional Budget Office report estimating supply-side net reductions in labor (workers deciding not to work or to work fewer hours), the equivalent of about 700,000 full-time jobs.

We reason that since PolitiFact is objective and non-partisan, it follows that only a non-objective and non-non-partisan (okay, partisan!) source would mention the findings of the CBO relating to unusually slow job recovery following the 2008 recession. In the world of PolitiFact, supply-side job loss doesn't count and doesn't even apparently affect the economy.

Or, to borrow a bit from Stephen Colbert, the fact[checker]s have a liberal bias.


Jeff Adds: Note that Jon Greenberg wrote both the NAFTA and ACA pieces. This makes it even more difficult to reconcile the use of two different methods in performing the fact checks.


Correction March 10, 2016 (bww): I inexplicably identified Delaware as the state Bernie Sanders represents. The text has been changed to identify Vermont as the state Sanders represents in the Senate.

6 comments:

  1. Why would PolitiFact include mention of a study that estimates the number of workers "deciding not to work or to work fewer hours" when the claim is that "millions fewer are stuck unwillingly in part-time work"? If you want to show bias, shouldn't the measure of cited vs. uncited stories be of equivalent relevance?

    I think it's clear which site is displaying bias here...

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  2. Michael Bailey asked:

    **Why would PolitiFact include mention of a study that estimates the number of workers "deciding not to work or to work fewer hours" when the claim is that "millions fewer are stuck unwillingly in part-time work"?**

    Because that wasn't all Cruz claimed, Michael. Cruz said the ACA was a job-killer. Omitting a CBO study that shows just that is manipulating the data. And your defense of PolitiFact does the same thing (manipulates the data).

    **If you want to show bias, shouldn't the measure of cited vs. uncited stories be of equivalent relevance?**

    We think that showing that PolitiFact cited raw job numbers in support of Sanders while omitting that part of the tale for Cruz tells a tale all its own. We think we're also showing bias via the measure of cited vs uncited sources (CBO? What's that?), but you don't like that because it doesn't put the football between the alternative goalposts you set up.

    **I think it's clear which site is displaying bias here...**

    You've made something clear to yourself with bad reasoning. Does that still count?

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  3. The Republicans don't care about facts and are threatened by fact checkers who will uncover the truth. Pathetic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you cared about facts, Gabe Florez, I might expect you to make a criticism of PolitiFact Bias based on some flaw in our criticism of PolitiFact.

      Have you nothing?

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    2. A number of things make me think that this Politifact piece is biased against Senator Cruz: (1) the failure to mention the CBO report indicating the loss of 2 million job hours after 2016 and (2) the administration's purposeful postponement of ACA's effects including the injection of $13 Billion into medicare by DHS just before the 2012 elections through a "demonstration" which the GAO said was illegal; (3) the failure to mention any number of studies concluding that the ACA would be a job killer and not a job producer (See New York times article by Casey B. Mulligen, a University of Chicago accountant who commenting on pie-eyed take on the ACA by Harvard economist Cutler stated: "The Affordable Care Act’s explicit taxes on employers, subsidies for layoffs and implicit taxes on employees, together amount to a five or six percentage point addition to the average marginal tax rate on labor income (this includes the fact that many people will not take part in programs for which they are eligible, the tendency of the act to move people off means tested uncompensated care and the fact that the act implicitly taxes unemployment benefits, as I noted in testimony before the Human Resources Subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee). By these calculations, the tax effects that Professor Cutler left out are about 10 times greater than, and in the opposite direction of, those he conveyed to Congress." and (4) the level of participation in the work force which remains the lowest since 1978 and how it cannot be explained away by demographics. One wonders if the reviewer at Politifact ever asked himself if there could be any relationship between the cost of labor and unemployment.

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    3. Thinker1 wrote:

      **One wonders if the reviewer at Politifact ever asked himself if there could be any relationship between the cost of labor and unemployment. **

      One suspects it was hard to focus on that well-known economic effect after the CBO said the job effects would occur largely from workers deciding not to work as much.

      Journalists bought the spin that such choices were a boon to workers (no more job lock!) and nothing more. Lost productivity and lower tax revenues may never have entered their minds after that.

      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Delete