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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of Oct. 26-Nov. 1

This week, readers sent us comments about our end-of-campaign "whoppers" article, job creation and health care.

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.

Finer Points on Campaign Whoppers

I do like your normally impartial review. However the opening statement below: 

With Democrats fighting desperately to keep control of the House and Senate, and a torrent of money from corporations and other undisclosed, unaccountable sources adding fuel to the Republican attack …

appears to state that the money pouring into the campaign as “from corporations and other undisclosed, unaccountable sources” is just a Republican problem ["Whoppers of Campaign 2010," Oct. 26].

If the charges from the Democrats that this money is undisclosed or unaccountable is adding fuel to the fire, that is correct. However the statement appears to mean that only Republicans are receiving undisclosed or unaccountable funds, and that is incorrect.

Jim Hoctor
Cincinnati, Ohio

All right guys, you have never been totally balanced OR fair between liberal and conservative but, I felt you tried to maintain some sort of equilibrium in presenting your "facts." However, you have crossed the line considerably with your editorial comments on this edition of FactCheck.

Come on…remember your name has the word FACT in it. This comment is beyond fact and reprehensible! If you are gonna provide that kind of commentary and still want to be considered neutral, perhaps you should refer to the millions of dollars from unions and other UNACCOUNTABLE sources sent to the Democrats. I don’t ask for much, just be fair and don’t editorialize.

Roger Hagan
Helena, Mont.

This is mostly very useful and interesting except for your insistence on equating hyperbole with lying. There is a serious difference, and voters are not served by failing to distinguish the two.

Using the epithet “Taliban” may be an exaggeration (or maybe not). This is not an empirical issue. It’s pretty subjective. After all, there are clear parallels between radical conservatives of any religion. The discussion can go on all day and can’t be settled in any objective way.

On the other hand, saying the stimulus didn’t create jobs is simply a lie. It’s an empirical claim that is demonstrably false. And, it’s much worse and does much more damage to democracy.

It would better if you would stick to the facts and not on whether a description or analogy is good enough for some subjective standard. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not their own facts. As a voter I don’t need you to tell if some analogy is appropriate or an exaggeration. I’ll decide that for myself, thank you. But I DO need you to tell me whether or not the stimulus provided jobs.

Rick Bady
Proctorville, Ohio


Job Details

In a few emails I received from you guys you stated that those on the Republican side who said no jobs have been created under the Obama administration is false. Technically you are correct on that, but you do not indicate the majority of the types of jobs created. The majority from what I can see (correct me if I am wrong) have been over paid federal jobs and some temporary construction jobs as well as the temporary census jobs. How does that benefit the millions of people out of work who are not politically connected or who are not construction workers? In that same article you should compare the number of jobs lost, the number of those collecting unemployment, and the number of those who have completely given up looking for work to the number of jobs created. To me that would be a complete analysis. You guys do a good job over there but I think could be a little more detail oriented at times.

Karl Singer
Bayville, N.J.

FactCheck.org responds: Very few if any stimulus jobs are in federal government. The Congressional Budget Office doesn’t supply any breakdown of the 1.4 million to 3.3 million jobs created. But total federal employment was only 51,000 higher (seasonally adjusted) in September than it was in February 2009, when the stimulus legislation was enacted, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We know of no reason to think that any of those were hired as a result of stimulus spending, and 6,000 were temporary Census workers who will be going off the payroll.


Health Care Argument in Need of Death Panel

You keep stating that ObamaCare will not cut any benefits for seniors. I think you are mistaken in your statements. ObamaCare will cut some $200 billion from Medicare Advantage programs over the next decade. My understanding is that 25% of seniors have enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs that are provided by private insurers. The ObamaCare cuts to these programs will raise the cost of these programs to seniors; in my dictionary, that is cutting a benefit to a large group of seniors.

I don’t think you point out that ObamaCare cuts payments to doctors and hospitals by some $200 billion but Democrats passed separate legislation eliminating those cuts for at least a couple of years. It should be noted that Congress has voted each year for years to postpone the annual cuts in doctors/hospital payments; these cuts were written into the original Medicare legislation. So, the ObamaCare cuts to doctors/hospitals was a trick to get the CBO scoring of costs down to an "acceptable" level.

There are other falsehoods in ObamaCare that you don’t seem to want to mention.

Jim Miller
Moneta, Va.

FactCheck.org responds: We have covered the effects of the health care legislation on Medicare Advantage, including in our recent "Whoppers" article and wrap-up of health care claims. We’ve said that those on Medicare Advantage are likely to lose the extra benefits they receive, such as eyeglasses and gym memberships. We also wrote about the so-called "doctor fix," which cancels scheduled Medicare payment cuts to physicians. Our reader has the details wrong about that. The law does not add cuts in order to "get the CBO scoring of costs down to an ‘acceptable’ level." In fact, previously scheduled cuts will be eliminated. However, moving this elimination into another bill did affect the CBO’s score of the bill’s overall price.

I find it amazing that in your analysis, you do not tell us how accurate the estimates of costs and savings have been in the past ["Health Care Spin — Again," Oct. 28]! You attack the ads/charges against health care but not a word about what the supporters are saying?

As for the CBO, how can you put any value in their reports? What is their track record? Any business worthy of the name always do a true analysis of projects and come out with a "best/worst/most likely" analysis of costs/savings/timelines BUT CBO doesn’t do that!

How can we add 40 million people into the system and claim costs won’t go up? You say that insurance companies will actually gain because of the number of people who now must be insured – oh so there is no additional costs involved with adding all these people INCLUDING people with pre-existing conditions?

I find this report terribly flawed and slanted!

Ted Whittlinger
Torrance, Calif.

FactCheck.org responds: The Congressional Budget Office has a long history of professionalism and nonpartisan analysis, regardless of which party controls Congress. Its projections are widely cited and its input sought by both sides. What our reader describes — analyzing projects and coming up with best case, worst case and most likely projections — is in fact exactly what CBO does.