In a Washington Times column, Dr. Milton Wolf, a blogger who purports to be a distant cousin of the president, accused President Obama of lying about aspects of health care reform in claiming that health care reform would lower the deficit and that "there are no death panels," among other things. In fact, most of Wolf's accusations are based on persistent, long-debunked right-wing myths about health care reform.
Wolf Claims It Is A "Lie" That Health Care Reform Will Reduce Deficit
CLAIM: Health Care Reform Will Not Reduce The Deficit. In his list of "Obamacare falsehoods" that appeared in his Washington Times column, Wolf wrote "The deficit will be reduced: Lie." [Washington Times, 7/19/11]
FACT: Nonpartisan Estimates Show The Health Care Reform Bill Will Reduce The Deficit Over Next Two Decades. From the Congressional Budget Office:
CBO and JCT [Joint Committee on Taxation] estimate that enacting both pieces of legislation--H.R. 3590 and the reconciliation proposal--would produce a net reduction in federal deficits of $143 billion over the 2010-2019 period as result of changes in direct spending and revenues (see Table 1). That figure comprises $124 billion in net reductions deriving from the health care and revenue provisions and $19 billion in net reductions deriving from the education provisions.
Reflecting the changes made by the reconciliation proposal, the combined effect of enacting H.R. 3590 and the reconciliation proposal would also be to reduce federal budget deficits over the ensuing decade relative to those projected under current law--with a total effect during that decade in a broad range around one-half percent of GDP. [Congressional Budget Office, 3/20/10]
Wolf Falsely Claims Health Care Reform Includes "Death Panels"
CLAIM: The Health Care Reform Bill Includes "Death Panels." In his column, Wolf further claimed one of the "Obamacare falsehoods" about health care reform is that it doesn't contain "death panels." [Washington Times, 7/19/11]
FACT: "Death Panels" Are A Persistent Falsehood About Health Care Reform And Politifact.com's 2009 "Lie Of The Year." PolitiFact.com rated the claim that the health care reform bill includes "death panels" its 2009 "lie of the year." From PolitiFact.com:
Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.
The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn't made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.
Her assertion - that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care - spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, "Death panels? Really?"
The editors of PolitiFact.com, the fact-checking Web site of the St. Petersburg Times, have chosen it as our inaugural "Lie of the Year."
PolitiFact readers overwhelmingly supported the decision. Nearly 5,000 voted in a national poll to name the biggest lie, and 61 percent chose "death panels" from a field of eight finalists. [PolitiFact.com, 12/18/09]
Wolf Promotes False Claim That Waiver System Favors "Obama's Best Friends"
CLAIM: Waiver Process Favors Administration's "Best Friends." In his column, Wolf further claimed that "all of" these "Obamacare falsehoods" "com[e] before the first Obamacare waivers exempted the White House's best friends from the rules that you must follow." [Washington Times, 7/19/11]
FACT: Waivers Are Temporary, And Companies From Industries That Opposed Health Care Reform Have Been Granted Waivers. From a December 7, 2010, FactCheck.org post:
We've received several questions about whether businesses have been able to opt out of the new health care law. The companies haven't been granted permission to ignore the entire law, as the Facebook post quoted by our reader might suggest -- but many have been given one-year waivers to delay compliance with a key insurance mandate that was put into place this fall. The White House says it instituted the waiver process to enable those companies to continue to provide limited-benefits plans -- cheap, bare-bones policies called mini-med plans -- until the law is fully implemented in 2014.
The new health care law aims to eliminate low annual coverage caps like those over time, and this is where the waiver issue has come in. The law says that annual coverage limits can't be set lower than $750,000 for new policy years starting between Sept. 23, 2010 and Sept. 23, 2011. That cap will be raised each year until 2014, when the law will require companies to have no annual spending limits on most benefits in health care plans.
But, as of Dec. 3, the federal government had approved a total of 222 one-year waivers that allow the insurance plans at companies like McDonald's, Jack in the Box and Ruby Tuesday, and unions, to ignore the requirement on annual limits. Far from being "Obama's buddies," as the Internet post claimed, the restaurant industry, through the National Restaurant Association, opposed the legislation. [FactCheck.org, 12/7/10]
Wolf Further Falsely Claimed "The Earth Hasn't Warmed In Nearly 15 Years"
Wolf: "The Earth Hasn't Warmed In Nearly 15 years." In his column, Wolf further claimed:
Health care is, of course, but a single - albeit critical - front in the deceptive battle for your liberty. The Earth hasn't warmed in nearly 15 years, yet global warmists demand you surrender even more energy freedom to them with the "cap-and-trade" scheme. [Washington Times, 7/19/11]
But Warming Trend Has Been Confirmed By Repeated Measurement
Recent Warming Trend Is Established By Temperature Measurements, Other Observations. The National Climatic Data Center explains that the "warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations":
Thousands of land and ocean temperature measurements are recorded each day around the globe. This includes measurements from climate reference stations, weather stations, ships, buoys and autonomous gliders in the oceans. These surface measurements are also supplemented with satellite measurements. These measurements are processed, examined for random and systematic errors, and then finally combined to produce a time series of global average temperature change. A number of agencies around the world have produced datasets of global-scale changes in surface temperature using different techniques to process the data and remove measurement errors that could lead to false interpretations of temperature trends. The warming trend that is apparent in all of the independent methods of calculating global temperature change is also confirmed by other independent observations, such as the melting of mountain glaciers on every continent, reductions in the extent of snow cover, earlier blooming of plants in spring, a shorter ice season on lakes and rivers, ocean heat content, reduced arctic sea ice, and rising sea levels. [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Climatic Data Center, accessed 1/14/11 via Media Matters]
Hadley Centre Data Shows Increase In Global Average Temperature. From the Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change:
[Met Office Hadley Centre for Climate Change, accessed 1/14/11]
IPCC: Most Of Recent Warming Is Very Likely Due To Increase In Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change -- a scientific body compiling research from thousands of scientists -- concluded in 2007 that "warming of the climate system is unequivocal, as is now evident from observations of increases in global average air and ocean temperatures, widespread melting of snow and ice and rising global average sea level" and that "most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely [defined in the report as a '>90%' chance] due to the observed increase in anthropogenic [human-caused] GHG [greenhouse gas] concentrations." [Pages 8 and 17, Synthesis Report, Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change, 2007]