[Posted by Karl]
PolitiFact opines that it is “mostly false” that Mitt Romney called his Massachusetts health care law “the model for the country.” They have dinged Rick Perry twice for making the claim, and Rick Santorum once. Most of the debate concerns an excerpt from Romney’s book, No Apologies, which was altered between the hardback and paperback editions:
My own preference would be to let each state fashion its own program to meet the distinct needs of its citizens. States could follow the Massachusetts model of they choose, or they could develop plans of their own. These plans, tested in the state ‘laboratories of democracy’ could be evaluated, compared, improved upon, and adopted by others. But the creation of a national plan is the direction in which Washington is currently moving. If a national approach is ultimately adopted, we should permit individuals to purchase insurance from companies in other states in order to expand choice and competition.
What we accomplished surprised us: 440,000 people who previously had no health insurance became insured, many paying their own way. We made it possible for each newly insured person to have better care, and ultimately healthier and longer lives. From now on, no one in Massachusetts has to worry about losing his or her health insurance if there is a job change or a loss in income; everyone is insured and pays only what he or she can afford. It’s portable, affordable health insurance — something people have been talking about for decades. We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care. (Emphasis added.)
The highlighted phrase was scrubbed from the paperback. PolitiFact opines:
Romney’s not really saying the Massachusetts law “should be the model for the country,” the way that Perry describes it. He’s in fact presenting a defense of state-level choice. It’s like a shout-out to other state leaders: Hey, you can have what Massachusetts has!
Shouting “you can have Romneycare” is not advocating it as a model for the country? That’s an awfully weak apologia, particularly if you know that when Romneycare became law, Mitt wrote: “How much of our health-care plan applies to other states? A lot.” It’s weaker still when you read what Mitt said in 2007 — and his explanation of it in 2010:
Back in February 2007, you said you hoped the Massachusetts plan would “become a model for the nation.” Would you agree that it has?
I don’t … You’re going to have to get that quote. That’s not exactly accurate, I don’t believe.
I can tell you exactly what it says: “I’m proud of what we’ve done. If Massachusetts succeeds in implementing it, then that will be a model for the nation.”
It is a model for the states to be able to learn from. During the campaign, I was asked if I was proposing that what I did in Massachusetts I would do for the nation. And the answer was absolutely not. Our plan is a state plan. It is a model for other states—if you will, the nation—it is a model for them to look at what we’ve accomplished and to better it or to create their own plans.
Note that even Romney’s attempted explanation at one point equates “other states” with the nation — which is what PolitiFact finds so objectionable coming from Perry and Santorum. And the criticism from Perry and Santorum comes in part because because Romney once claimed that “a lot” of Romneycare applied to other states, but now says:
Our approach was a state plan intended to address problems that were in many ways unique to Massachusetts.
The point here is not to condemn Romney’s tapdancing, but PolitiFact’s claim that said tapdancing is “truth” while ignoring the overall political context. The attempt to reduce debatable political questions to unquestionable articles of “truth” — typically to manufacture consent to center-left government — is endemic to the establishment media’s so-called fact-checking propaganda operations. But PolitiFact is particularly egregious, as Mark Hemingway notes:
You can believe that Republicans lie more than three times as often as Democrats. Or you can believe that, at a minimum, PolitiFact is engaging in a great deal of selection bias, to say nothing of pushing tendentious arguments of its own.
The obvious selection bias here is that PolitiFact does not even consider Romney’s shifting claims about the broader applicability of Romneycare to be worthy of question. But the selection bias on this topic runs deeper.
For example, Romney has repeatedly denied that Romneycare is similar to Obamacare. Most everyone else — including PolitiFact — has concluded the two are mostly similar. But if you peruse PolitiFact’s Mitt Romney file, you will find that so far, they have never dinged Romney himself for claiming the opposite.
Given that in previous years, PolitiFact has awarded its “Lie of the Year” to statements attacking Obamacare (one of which I have dissected before), a cynic might be forgiven for thinking that PolitiFact prefers defending ever-increasing government control of the healthcare system — whether that control is exercised by the state or the feds — over its supposed mission of fact-checking.