Monday, November 30, 2020

PolitiFact claims it's "Half True" Georgia senator wants to get rid of health care during the COVID-19 pandemic

We found an item that fits beautifully in our traditional category "Words Matter, Except When They Don't" as well as our new category "Rubberstamps for Democrats."


Warnock's exaggeration on this claim qualifies as Trumpian. There's no indication at all, as PolitiFact admits, that Sen. Loeffler wants to get rid of health care ("per se") during the middle of a pandemic. Warnock is talking about Loeffler's (alleged) support of a lawsuit brought by the states that seeks to overturn the ACA as unconstitutional.

Most of the deception in Warnock's claim comes from two twists. 

First, Warnock translates getting rid of Obamacare into getting rid of health care. That's a monstrous stretch. Obamacare counts as an insurance program, not a health care program. Getting rid of Obamacare gets rid of some insurance coverage. It does not get rid of health care.

Second, the structure of Warnock's claim would tell the audience that Loeffler would prefer getting rid of health care during "the middle of a pandemic" to getting rid of health care at some other time (such as not "in the middle of a pandemic." But that's not really at issue. The issue would be whether she believes the ACA is unconstitutional. We shouldn't expect her reading of the law to change during a pandemic.

Even if Warnock were to claim Loeffler favors "getting rid of the Afforable Care Act in the middle of a pandemic" the claim would only count as roughly half true*. Gratuitously allowing "the middle of a pandemic" to stretch from the beginning to the end of the pandemic, we have no real evidence that Loeffler particularly wants the ACA to end during that span. What we (might) have is Loeffler carrying the same opinion about the constitutionality of the ACA regardless of a pandemic.

If the Supreme Court rules on the ACA lawsuit in 2021, as expected, we may be looking at the tail end of the pandemic and not its "middle," and that's assuming the SCOTUS orders a precipitous end to the ACA. There's no particular reason to expect that.

Some experts consider it highly unlikely that the Affordable Care Act would be overturned. And it is important to note that even if the Affordable Care Act is ruled unconstitutional, these impacts would not necessarily take effect the instant that the Supreme Court hands down the verdict.

If the Affordable Care Act was ruled unconstitutional, it would set off a chain of events in the political and legal spheres that are hard to predict in advance. Very likely, Congress and the Administration would take steps shortly after the decision to try to stabilize the situation.

Warnock's ad is a logic-free misleading appeal to emotion. She wants to take health care away from people who are dying! As political ads go, it's about as low as they come.

PolitiFact's "Half True" rating of Warnock's misleading bull hockey serves as just another illustration of PolitiFact's marked leftward lean. It's such a wildly generous "Half True" that it counts as a rubberstamp.

Narrative matters to PolitiFact far more than words (pun not intended, but I'll keep it).


There's a third deception in this fact check, in that Warnock and PolitiFact pull a big switcheroo. 

Loeffler voted against a bill that would keep the Department of Justice from agreeing with lawsuits seeking to overturn the ACA. Warnock and PolitiFact take that as support for the lawsuit, in the absence of other evidence. But maybe Loeffler simply did not want to see Congress try to tie the hands of the constitutionally co-equal executive branch in its dealings with the judicial branch. Loeffler's support for the DoJ's ability to choose its positions on issues would not directly equate to agreeing with the DoJ position on those issues.

PolitiFact glosses over the discrepancy.

That's the kind of thing a fact checker might do if politically biased.

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