Sunday, June 12, 2022

Enter Strawman: PolitiFact uses interpretive follies to downgrade Republican claim

PolitiFact routinely applies uncharitable interpretation to reach nonsensical conclusions with its trademarked "Truth-O-Meter" ratings. Rep. Glenn Grothman (R-Wisc.) received that treatment from PolitiFact Wisconsin on June 10, 2022.

Grothman said the proposed loan forgiveness plan would primarily benefit the wealthy. And he went on to emphasize the program occurs while low income Americans struggle.

PolitiFact did a fair job at first of presenting Grothman's words:

"Nearly 60% of all student loan debt is held by the rich and upper-middle class," he said in a May 21, 2022 newsletter. "So, by forgiving student loan debt, we would be handing the wealthy a financial windfall while low income Americans suffer further from inflation and rising costs."

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Enter Strawman

But then the twisting began:
For the purposes of this fact-check, we’re going to look at the portion of the claim about who holds student loan debt, and whether or not forgiveness would help low-income people.
Out of the blue, PolitiFact Wisconsin jumps to the conclusion Grothman's saying loan forgiveness extended to low-income persons would do little to help them.

PolitiFact simply declines to consider Grothmann might mean that executing a policy that most benefits the wealthy makes little sense during an inflation crunch that's particularly hurting lower-income Americans. PolitiFact confirms Grothman was right that the policy would tend to benefit the wealthy. But by pursuing its far-fetched interpretation of Grothman's claim, PolitiFact ends up defeating a straw man:
(Grothmann) misfires a bit in suggesting that loan forgiveness would not matter much to low-income people. For college graduates in lesser-paying jobs, it might make a huge difference in terms of their finances.

"Suggesting." That's PolitiFact-ese for "We made it up."

Grothman wasn't saying loan forgiveness would not help lower income people who received it. He was saying loan forgiveness mostly would benefit the wealthy when lower income people are the ones in need of relief.

But try to tell that to a liberal blogger wearing the "fact checker" label.

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