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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Nov. 3-Nov. 9

This week, readers sent us comments on energy costs, osteopathy and the New Jersey governors’ race.

In the FactCheck Mailbag we feature some of the e-mail we receive. Readers can send comments to editor@factcheck.org. Letters may be edited for length.

Energy Price Perspective

While I recognize that the purpose is to correct the ads against Sen. Graham and his support for a cap-and-trade bill, the article ["Creepy Cap-and-Trade Claims Are Illusions," Oct. 28] tends to minimize the fact that even the increases in energy prices FactCheck says are likely can have a severe negative effect on us all and even our economy. A 29 percent increase would be devastating for many families and businesses and for what? If you really want to do a service, you should not only fact-check but conduct analyses of what the facts may mean to us all. Some of these things would be good maybe and some bad maybe. In this case, the net effect, even using the real numbers could be a disaster economically.

Jimmy Griggs
Madison, Ala.


Terminology Malpractice?

I am a huge fan of your site and your analysis of critical current issues. Over the last year, especially, you have been a touchstone for rational, measured explanations of tumultuous, emotional issues, and I read your analysis on a very regular basis. It is because I think so highly of your service and know that many others do as well, that I think it is very important to call you out when I see an error. One sentence from the article "Swine Flu Emergency?" [Nov. 5] is highly deceptive, and leaves the reader with a false impression: that osteopaths are somehow less viable or trustworthy than M.D.s – with the implication that as an osteopath, Dr. Mercola is little more than a snake-oil salesman. This is patently false and misleading, and I wish you would issue a correction.

Osteopaths receive the same level and intensity of training that M.D.s do, and are every bit as capable of providing every level of medical treatment. In addition, however, they receive additional training in massage and adjustments that can allow the body to fix itself when possible…They do incorporate “natural health treatments” into their practice, however these remedies are often at least as effective as those branded by pharmaceutical giants, are monitored and approved by the FDA, and are drawn from centuries of wisdom. …

While this particular doctor (who is a doctor, despite the different letters after his name), may be misguided, and it is possible that his natural health remedies may be quackery, I urge you to not propagate the false impressions and misleading propaganda that the pharmaceuticals and AMA have so carefully cultivated over the years to create the impression that there is only one reputable degree and one trustworthy remedy plan.

Kristen Harbeson
Baltimore, Md.

FactCheck.org responds: It was not our intent in this article to cast aspersions on osteopaths generally. Nor was it our intent to imply that Mercola is not a doctor (our words were that he "is not an M.D.) or that his dissemination of false information about the H1N1 vaccine is due to the fact that he is an osteopath. Osteopaths have a different approach than M.D.s and may have a different attitude toward interventions like vaccination, which makes the distinction potentially relevant, in our view.

However, because several readers wrote to us believing we were indeed slurring osteopathy, we have attempted to excise that perceived implication by moving our menton of Mercola’s chosen path in medicine further down in the story.

We should note, lest any reader get the wrong impression from the letter above, that "natural health treatments," which generally fall under the category of dietary supplements, do not require approval by the Food and Drug Administration prior to marketing. The agency is responsible for taking action against any unsafe dietary supplement after it reaches the market.


Christie Criticism

Your conclusion leads the reader to believe that the two competing ads are equally misleading. ["Corzine, Christie Spar Over Income Taxes," Oct. 28]. I could not disagree more.

Corzine followed the law; Christie did not. The amount is irrelevant.

In your own words, Christie IS a "tax deadbeat," Corzine is not.

How can these two ads be morally equivalent?

Mark Duerr
Chico, Calif.

FactCheck.org responds: To clarify, we said that "Corzine’s not a tax deadbeat." And we said that "Christie did admit that he didn’t pay taxes on interest he collected on [a] loan," but the amount he owed "was small." We leave it to readers to decide if one ad is more misleading than the other.


The Republican Plan

Republicans claim that the health care plan that they have, I think it is H.R. 3400 or H.R. 4400, can save more money, cover more people, and reduce the deficit more than anything that the House and Senate have out. Is there any way the CBO can score this and can your team research the bills to see about their claims?

George Sandidge
Winnsboro, S.C.

FactCheck.org responds: The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t scored H.R. 3400, but it has analyzed the Republicans’ proposed "amendment in the nature of a substitute" for the House bill. CBO found that the proposed substitute would cost much less than the Democrats’ bill — a net cost of $8 billion over 10 years — and would reduce the ranks of the nonelderly uninsured by about 3 million, leaving 52 million uninsured by 2019. The bill passed by the House is projected to have a net cost of $891 billion and reduce the uninsured by 36 million. The CBO estimated that the GOP plan would reduce the deficit by a net $68 billion over 10 years, while the House-passed plan would reduce the deficit by more — a net $109 billion.