The St. Petersburg Times‘ PolitiFact last night announced the winner of its “Lie of the Year” contest, naming “government takeover of health care” as the most outrageous falsehood of 2010. While the phrase beat out two lies named as finalists that were issued by Florida politicians, Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Orlando, and Republican Gov.-elect Rick Scott, Scott certainly played a role in disseminating the lie that took home the gold.
From the announcement:
PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen “government takeover of health care” as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats’ shellacking in the November elections.
Readers of PolitiFact.com, the St. Petersburg Times‘ independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year’s most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann’s claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)
By selecting “government takeover” as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy.
The phrase is simply not true.
Said Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: “The label ‘government takeover’ has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in health care as a ‘takeover.’”
That didn’t stop Florida’s governor-elect and his campaign from uttering the phrase regularly. Scott used the lie at an August “Unity Rally,” campaign spokesman Joe Kildea said it in a September statement, and a Republican Party of Florida ad attacking Scott’s Democratic opponent also included the misleading phrase.
Even after winning the Nov. 2 election, Scott has characterized health care reform as a “government takeover.” This Monday, Scott wrote the following on his transition website:
A federal court in Virginia struck down as unconstitutional a provision in the massive government takeover of the health care system commonly referred to as “ObamaCare.” In a statement, Florida Governor-elect Rick Scott praised the decision as an important step toward turning the economy and the unemployment situation around. [Emphasis added.]