Let’s Fix America: Spotting the Lies (Part 1)
When discussing how to “fix” the problems with the American system, of course it’s important to know how to ask the right questions. Yet, it’s also important to be able to tell if the answer you are given is truthful. Thus, we’re just two installments in and we’ve already reached the core problem that has vexed the body politic since there have been politicians.
Yet it’s not impossible to be able to figure out if a politician is telling the truth or not (to a degree) without being an investigative journalist. Let’s take a well-known political “lie” from President Obama regarding Obamacare: If you like your plan you can keep it.
The fact is, this was not a lie at all, at least not technically. In the bill, a grandfather clause which would allow people the “preservation of [the] right to maintain existing coverage.” People could maintain their plans if those plans remained unchanged after the passage of the bill. Yet, for many consumers, their insurance plans were changed after the bill passed, breaking their grandfathered protection.
Fact-checking sites like PolitiFact had flagged the statement as questionable as early as 2012, so really to know that statement was suspect one would have only had to pay attention. However in the clamor surrounding Obamacare – from claims of Death Panels to Socialized Medicine – the important information was drowned out for the more sexy stuff.
However one of the most surefire signals that this statement was likely a misrepresentation of the facts is that it took a complex issue and broke it down to a soundbite. No issue as complex as this could be adequately explained in a ten-word answer. While statistics can easily be manipulated to advance a political argument one way or another (an issue we’ll address later in the week), a lack of any numbers at all in a financial discussion is a blaring alarm that you are (at best) being misled.