Scarborough's fact check compared Cheney lie to accurate Edwards remark

››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

During MSNBC's After Hours coverage following the October 5 vice presidential debate, Scarborough Country host and former U.S. Representative Joe Scarborough (R-FL) compared Vice President Dick Cheney's false debate claim that he has "not suggested there's a connection between Iraq and 9-11" to a factually correct statement by Senator John Edwards: that the Bush administration's tort reform plan, "according to the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office, amounts to about half of 1 percent of health-care costs in this country."

Referencing former Isuzu Motors corporate spokesman Joe Isuzu (who, in a series of "offbeat" commercials from 1986 to 1990, told a series of obviously outrageous lies in support of the company's products), Scarborough said the following in the early hours of October 6:

SCARBOROUGH: The first Joe Isuzu minute was when Dick Cheney said, "Connection? I never said there was a connection." The second one was when John Edwards said, "Lawsuits impacting medical costs? What are you talking about?"

But, as Media Matters for America has noted, the Congressional Budget Office report cited by Edwards confirms that the tort reform favored by the Bush administration (a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages that would reduce doctors' malpractice premiums by 25 percent to 30 percent) would have a minimal impact on the high costs of health care. According to the report, "[M]alpractice costs amounted to an estimated $24 billion in 2002, but that figure represents less than 2 percent of overall health care spending. Thus, even a reduction of 25 percent to 30 percent in malpractice costs would lower health care costs by only about 0.4 percent to 0.5 percent, and the likely effect on health insurance premiums would be comparably small."

On the other hand, Cheney's claim -- that he never suggested a connection between Iraq and the September 11 attacks -- is false. On September 14, 2003, Cheney said the following on NBC's Meet the Press: "If we're successful in Iraq, if we can stand up a good representative government in Iraq, that secures the region so that it never again becomes a threat to its neighbors or to the United States, so it's not pursuing weapons of mass destruction, so that it's not a safe haven for terrorists, now we will have struck a major blow right at the heart of the base, if you will, the geographic base of the terrorists who have had us under assault now for many years, but most especially on 9-11."

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