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FactCheck Mailbag, Week of March 29-April 4

This week, readers sent us comments about the Wisconsin budget battle and our scrutiny of Republicans and Democrats.

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.

Wisconsin Budget Whiff

Interestingly enough, this article ["Wisconsin’s Baffling Budget Battle," March 2] did not ask nor answer the only baffling part of the story, which is: How does stripping union representation and reneging on all employee agreements for safety, security, and retirements (government employees are not allowed to contribute to, nor collect from Social Security) save the budget in Wisconsin? How about that?

All other Americans can have their 401k, or company retirement, or whatever, AND Social Security, but government employees get a union retirement plan in lieu of SSA. Why did you steer away from the only thing that mattered? Maybe everybody who has a contract with Wisconsin should unilaterally void their promises, too. But, of course, there is the baffling little idea that redefining rape will cure the budget also. I think that went away when it proved to be so incredibly heartless and stupid…am I correct?

David Guilmette
Pacifica, Calif.

FactCheck.org responds: According to the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, state employees who are enrolled in the Wisconsin Retirement System receive Social Security as do all federal government workers hired since 1983, and many other state employees.

Clarification, April 6: We originally said "federal workers" were covered, but a few still are not. When Social Security coverage began for federal workers, those hired prior to Jan. 1, 1984 were given the option of remaining under the old Civil Service Retirement System. Thanks to Frank Jamieson of Moline, Ill. for reminding us that, even more than 27 years later, some older federal workers remain outside the Social Security system. Except for those dwindling few, the Social Security Administration states: "All other Federal government employees participate in Social Security like everyone else."


Unfair to Republicans

Let me preface this question by saying that I duly appreciate FactCheck.org’s diligence and hard work in keeping our politicians honest, so to speak. I get more news from this source than any other, I think. That said, I have noticed that, in general, FactCheck.org will go to great lengths to describe in detail the dishonesty and exaggerations of the GOP House and Senate members. However, only rarely do I see mention of Democrat dishonesty, and when I do, details are minimal, and often only added as an afterthought.

I am a reporter in training, and a student of Critical Thinking, so it is glaring to me when I notice these things. Indeed, I can’t help but notice them since if either opinion or bias turns up in one of my articles, I get an automatic F. I was under the initial impression that FactCheck.org was an independent, unbiased news source and "fact"-checking agency. But it seems as if the GOP is getting unfair scrutiny. And I am not naive enough to be made to believe that the GOP is doing most of the lying. They’re all liars. I think it’s part of the job description. It comes down to a matter of degree. So, my question is, "Why?"

Joshua Nunya
Jackson, Miss.