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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center


August traditionally may be a slow news month in the nation’s capital, but the bogus claims have continued to fly in the final full week of meteorological summer. This week, we’ve written about health care, health care and, oh yeah, more health care.

An article from Aug. 21 addresses abortion funding in H.R. 3200, the House version of the health care overhaul backed by the White House. We found that President Obama is stretching when he claims that the bill won’t provide any abortion funding. It’s true that an amendment to the bill bars the use of federal funds for abortions. But there’s a difference between funding and coverage, and the bill doesn’t specifically prohibit the federal plan from covering abortion, nor does it prohibit private plans purchased with the help of federal subsidies from covering them. We updated the article on Aug. 25 to note that both the National Right to Life Committee and Planned Parenthood took issue with our analysis. You can read their letters in this week’s FactCheck Mailbag.

We know you all enjoy a good chain e-mail (at least judging by our inboxes here). This week we debunked two of them. Our Aug. 28 article, Twenty-six Lies About H.R. 3200, addresses that "A few highlights from the healthcare bill" e-mail that’s being widely circulated. Of the 48 claims made in that e-mail, only four are accurate. We also addressed the claim that Obama failed to respond when asked if he’d trade his own health care for the proposed "public plan." In fact, Obama responded at length to the question. On a similar note, an Aug. 25 Ask FactCheck item explains that members of Congress receive health care coverage from private insurance plans, just like every other federal employee.

But politicians and chain e-mail weren’t the only sources of false information this week. On the FactCheck Wire, we looked at a bogus ad from the conservative Club for Growth that targets Republican Sen. Robert Bennett of Utah. The ad conflates the Senate’s pending health care bill with a totally different proposal, one that’s supported by a number of other conservative senators. Worse, it falsely claims that the measure would cost "more than a trillion dollars" when in fact the program would likely generate revenue.

And finally, we met up with our old friend Betsy McCaughey, who dubbed us "SpotCheck.org" during her appearance on "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart." As we’ve found before, McCaughey’s claims were riddled with errors — some we’d debunked before, but there were a few brand-new ones.

We’re off to enjoy the last August weekend of 2009. We’re looking forward to seeing what September will bring. We suspect it may have something to do with health care.