“With All Due Respect, That’s a Bunch of Malarkey”

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First off: no one is going to fire Big Bird [1]. Furthermore, Obama has not doubled the deficit (it’s down from what he inherited) [2], 47% of Americans don’t pay income taxes [3], no one on the ballot has ran a sub 3 hour marathon [4], and many other things. Some of these facts are relevant (like the deficit), some are passe (what’s your percentage?), and many are bizarre (like Big Bird or a made up marathon time).

The lies cross both sides of the aisle. Everyone throws around dubious facts and statistics. Each debate, someone mentions an ambiguous “study” doing “research” and coming up with “results.” Of course, who is doing the study is almost never mentioned. As to how they conduct their research, your guess is as good as mine. What do the results mean? It depends on the analysis.

Some claims are correct. Romney said a coal plant was a killer once [7]. Massachusetts does have the best schools in the nation [8]. The Romney-Ryan plan for healthcare is a voucher program [9].

Some claims are blatantly wrong. For instance, the Government is Not Good PAC ran an ad claiming “Barrack Hussein Obama….will force doctors to assist homosexuals in buying surrogate babies” [5]. Other claims, less ridiculous but not any more correct, are also out there. In example, Romney keeps saying Obama started his term with an apology tour. This did not happen [6].

The hard stuff falls somewhere between true and false. It happens when politicians cherry pick numbers. For instance, as Romney claimed during Tuesday’s debate, oil production on federal lands did go down 14% during Obama’s term. What he didn’t mention was that it was one year, or that the decrease was due to the Deepwater Horizon disaster [10].

It gets more difficult. Without comprehensive plans, it’s hard to know whether or not a claim is true or false. The Romney-Ryan tax plan falls in this category. Ryan claims the math is there [11]. Most others claim it isn’t [12]. While I lean towards thinking the math doesn’t work (more on this in the future), without a complete plan, there will always be a sliver of hope for believers.

This campaign season, lies sound good. Numbers and quotes sound like facts. Thank God no one is firing Big Bird. Politicians could learn a lesson from this video, and take Big Bird’s advice. Even if you do something you’re not proud of, it’s never too late to fix it.

[1] http://www.politifact.com/new-hampshire/statements/2012/oct/09/barack-obama/obama-says-romney-wants-fire-big-bird/

[2] http://www.politifact.com/personalities/mitt-romney/statements/

[3] http://www.vanderbiltpoliticalreview.com/?p=554

[4] http://www.salon.com/2012/09/02/paul_ryans_marathon_lie/

[5] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/sep/27/government-not-god-pac/ad-claims-obama-will-force-doctors-assist-homosexu/

[6] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/17/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-says-barack-obama-began/

[7] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/16/barack-obama/obama-says-romney-once-said-coal-burning-plant-kil/

[8] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/05/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-said-massachusetts-schools-are-ranked-/

[9] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/03/barack-obama/obama-says-romney-wants-turn-medicare-voucher-prog/

[10] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/16/mitt-romney/mitt-romney-says-oil-production-down-14-percent-ye/

[11] http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/oct/15/paul-ryan/ryan-says-six-studies-say-math-works-romney-tax-pl/

[12] http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/10/16/1023181/politifact-romney-debunked/?mobile=nc

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About author

Alison Shanahan

Alison is an economics and psychology major from Saint Paul, Minnesota. She spent last summer working on a local campaign and interning with an activist nonprofit. Her main political interests are the economic analysis of public policy, particularly when it relates to poverty, education, and the environment.

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