Religious Right Parrots Lie of the Year
The Pulitzer Prize-winning Politifact.com gave its Lie of the Year award to the widely circulated conservative argument that health reform legislation constituted a “government takeover” of the health care system. From their explanation of the award:
But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn’t let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.
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.
Unsurprisingly, numerous religious right leaders and organizations eagerly repeated this award-winning lie throughout the health care reform debate and during this year’s election season. A few examples:
- The Family Research Council held a webcast called “Government Takeover of Healthcare: Counting the Cost.”
- Richard Land delivered to Congress a health care petition bearing the headline “Stop the Government Takeover Before It’s Too Late.”
- The Susan B. Anthony List took out radio ads alleging that Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) “cast the deciding vote to allow the government takeover of health care.”
- FRCAction PAC ran campaign ads accusing numerous Democrats of supporting “big government” that is “taking over our health care.”
Politifact traces this term back to an influential 2009 strategy memo by Republican pollster and messaging guru Frank Luntz, which straightforwardly says “you’ll notice we recommend the phrase ‘government takeover of health care.’” It’s a shame that the Gospel of Luntz trumped the 9th Commandment.