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Charlie Sykes: Sykes Writes

Politifact's Journalistic Malpractice

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Former Governor Lee Sherman Dreyfus frequently observed that the ‘Golden Rule” of government was that ‘He who had the gold, makes the rules.”

If the late Dreyfus were still among us, he would have been slapped down by the high priests of Politifact.

Consider:  Senate candidate Tammy Baldwin has made the explicit declaration that “I was for a government take-over of medicine. I was for a single-payer plan.  (See video here:


In a single payer plan, government pays for everything – for doctors, treatments, surgeries, hospitals.

But, for Politifact, this is not be confused with a " take-over" – even though that was precisely the word Baldwin used.

Politifact stands firm in its dogma that government-funded health care system is never ever, ever to be called a “government controlled” health care system. So when Tommy Thompson said that Baldwin supports a law "in which government will take over your decisions on medicine, on doctors and on hospitals” Politifact rushed to deem it FALSE.

Thus sayeth Politifact: “He[Thompson]  provides no evidence that Obama’s health care reform law would bring about such a change, and offers only speculation that such a change would occur under a single-payer system. Experts were unpersuaded by his claim.”

Whatever would we do without experts? Especially experts apparently unaware of the reality of government-run health systems in countries like Great Britain.

Let’s stop to recall what the non-single payer Obamacare demands.  The bill includes the words “shall” roughly 3000 times, generating thousands of pages of mandates, regulations, and assorted state decrees. The Heritage Foundation notes that the law includes 18 new taxes and penalties, costing taxpayers $836 billion through 2022.

But this pales next to the costs and control in a system where the government pays (or refuses to pay) every bill.

Dr. Robert Book (apparently not experty enough for Politifact) notes that under a single payer plan, “the federal government would amass greater power over the financing and delivery of medical services; it would also determine the benefits and medical procedures that Americans would get and the prices providers are paid for them. This concentration of government power over health care would have a profound impact on all Americans, especially members of the medical profession.”

But Politifact assures us this is not government  control. And anyone who suggests that it is control--  is lying.

This is “Through the Looking Glass” stuff, but it is now dogma at Politifact which has shifted from adjudicator of fact to ideological enforcer.  That’s nowhere clearer than on this issue, which marks a fundamental ideological divide.

For the left a single payer system means free health care for all. For conservatives, it means state control.

The left argues that government subsidies are inherent goods handed out by a beneficent and government. Conservatives believe, and have long argued, that government funding inevitably diminishes freedom becomes it comes with government regulation, mandates, and ultimately control.

Although it has been frequently attributed to Thomas Jefferson, it was Gerald Ford who observed: "A government big enough to give you everything you need, is a government big enough to take away everything that you have...." Or as Dennis Prager puts it: “The bigger the state, the bigger the government - the smaller the citizen.’

Put simply: whoever controls the purse strings controls the service.  In Tammy Baldwin’s system, every aspect of the health care system is beholden to the government – read bureaucrats and politicians – for their livelihoods. In a single payer system, it is government fiat that determines how resources are allocated; what treatments are offered; how they are offered; and what will be paid for… not the free market.

Since the state has the gold, it is the state that will make the rules, not the doctor or the patient.

Ultimately, this is what Dreyfus understood that Politifact does not.

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