WaPo's Fact Checker gives Obama the kid gloves on spending for and against Obamacare

In a post earlier today, I cited Glenn Kessler, who runs the Washington Post’s fact-checking blog, to prove President Obama wrong on a claim that “billions” were spent opposing the president’s health care law.


While Kessler largely came to the right conclusion — that “billions” were not spent against the Affordable Care Act — he gave the president kid gloves treatment in his final assessment of the claim

First, despite concluding that Obama’s claim was false, Kessler gave him “Two Pinocchios,” a ranking that indicates merely “significant omissions or exaggerations.” Kessler should have used The Fact Checker’s normal standard for what it calls “whoppers”: Four Pinocchios.

While the number of “Pinocchios” may not be a big deal in the grand scheme of things, that is the portion of any Fact Checker analysis often cited first and most prominently. It would behoove Kessler to update the post appropriately.

Second, and more importantly, Kessler ignored the impact of Obamacare’s $700 million in taxpayer money for marketing of the law. In his original post, he failed to mention it at all, and in an update he chose to ignore its impact. Quoting a media expert who has analyzed spending for and against the ACA, he concluded that $700 million in taxpayer money isn’t in the same category as anti-ACA ads because of word choice and where ads were run.

With respect to the expert Kessler cited, both of these points are irrelevant. Advertising is advertising. And as I noted in my other post, Kessler’s assessment of pro-Obamacare spending doesn’t include the budgets of most mainstream media outlets, all of which have clambered to stand with the president despite the facts.


This is not the first time Kessler has given Obamacare the kid gloves treatment. In early February, he wrote the following during an analysis of whether jobs would be lost because of the ACA (emphasis added):

Moreover, the argument could go, this would hurt the nation’s budget because 2.3 million fewer people will pay taxes on their earnings. That’s certainly an intellectually solid argument — though others might counter that universal health care is worth a reduction in overall employment — but it’s not at all the same as saying that all of these jobs would be lost.

There is no universal coverage in the ACA; in fact, in 2012, the Congressional Budget Office projected that approximately 30 million people would be uninsured 12 years after Obamacare was signed into law. Furthermore, a recent Gallup poll found that the rate of uninsured is still well over 15% as of the first quarter of 2014.

In the same post, Kessler wrote that “Fewer workers initially would lead to higher wages as employers competed to hire people.” Citing the Congressional Budget Office, which explicitly stated otherwise, Just Facts proved Kessler wrong:

In plain words, one of the reasons people will work less under Obamacare is that the law drives down their wages through regulations and fines, which reduces their incentive to work.

Kessler’s…points are grounded in basic laws of supply and demand. Less workers means more competition for labor, and thus, higher wages. However, [Kessler fails] to mention that one of the reasons there will be less workers is because wages will be lower. By failing to report this, [Kessler] mislead[s]…readers about the findings of the CBO report.


Kessler often does good work, but his post on advertisements for and against Obamacare should have reflected what was said, not what he wanted to apply to it. The same goes for the post in February, which was widely cited by liberals who said Obamacare would not cost America jobs.

By not doing so, he shows himself to be giving President Obama an enormous pass on more than one occasion, and in this most recent post, allowing the president to support Harry Reid’s Kochsteria with falsehoods in an election year.

Note: Those who have read my prior posts have seen me cite Just Facts on numerous occasions. A public policy think tank, Just Facts is one of the best sources for the truth on abortion, guns, global warming, taxes, and the national debt, among other public policy issues. I strongly recommend following them on Facebook and following their blog.

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