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A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Extras: Palin, Rubio, Apps and Chain E-mails

From time to time we come across bits of political malarkey or other items that don’t quite rate a full article. Starting today, we’ll collect these tidbits in a new, occasional feature we call "Extras."

Palin: "Who makes a decision like that?"
In a Nov. 6 appearance at a no-cameras-allowed fundraiser, Sarah Palin criticized moving the words "In God We Trust" onto the edges of some new $1 coins: "Who calls a shot like that?

A Premium Freeze? Don’t Believe It.

In defense of House members who are under attack for supporting that body’s health care bill, two liberal-leaning organizations are on the air with ads that go overboard in describing the wonders of the legislation.
Americans United for Change and a labor union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, say they’re spending $1.7 million to run the cookie-cutter spots in 13 congressional districts where lawmakers have been hit with attack ads from the U.S.

Not Just the Facts

Here at FactCheck.org, we’re always excited to see news organizations devoting time to fact-checking. So we were pleased to see that the Associated Press had decided to fact-check Sarah Palin’s new memoir, "Going Rogue." Putting 11 reporters on the task strikes us as overkill, but that might just be because it’s four more than our entire staff. Still, we’re glad to see others taking up the fact-checking standard.
Not everyone was a fan, though. The Columbia Journalism Review‘s Greg Marx is unimpressed with the AP’s efforts.

Recovery Stats Get Rougher

We reported yesterday that the federal government’s Recovery.gov Web site, which purports to track jobs created or saved with stimulus money, was citing new jobs in nonexistent congressional districts. Today a new report from the Government Accountability Office brings news that phantom districts aren’t the only problem.
GAO found almost 4,000 reports that showed jobs created or saved but no money received or expended. Those reports represented more than 50,000 jobs. Recovery.gov’s total job count is 640,329.

Real Jobs, Fake Districts?

The Obama administration’s Recovery.gov Web site is supposed to compile data on actual, real-life jobs filled by companies and states that have received real money from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (a.k.a. the stimulus). But the site claims that jobs exist in congressional districts that don’t.
This is a site, by the way, that says it "allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse."
ABC News reported the discrepancies Nov. 16, pointing out that 39 jobs were supposedly created in imaginary districts in Iowa,

What’s Wrong With This Picture?

We’ve received a number of queries about a photograph purporting to show President Obama at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day, listening to the national anthem without his hand over his heart.
Anyone who saw news coverage of Obama on Veterans Day might have smelled a rat right away: He didn’t wear a red tie that day, as he does in the picture, but a blue one, and he wore a winter coat over his suit.

Clunker Claims and Cadillac Plans

The AFL-CIO is running a print ad this week arguing that "the House bill gets it right" on health care. The Senate bill? Not so much, says the labor federation.
Its beef is with the tax in the Senate Finance Committee bill on high-cost (a.k.a. "Cadillac") health care plans. Unions have come out against the tax, saying many of their middle-class members would be affected. The proposal calls for a 40 percent tax on the value of insurance benefits that exceed $21,000 a year for a family or $8,000 for an individual.

Using H1N1 to Sway Health Care Debate

The American Future Fund, a conservative advocacy group, has released a new ad that uses the H1N1 vaccine as the crux of its argument against health care overhaul legislation.
The ad asks: "If the government can’t run a flu program, can we trust it to run America’s entire health care system?" But the question assumes a false premise. The health care proposals that are nearing full chamber votes are not empowering the government to run an entire health care system,

The “Government-Run” Mantra

The claim that the House bill would amount to "government-run health care" suffered a blow last week, when the Congressional Budget Office estimated that the so-called "public plan" in the revised bill wouldn’t offer much in the way of competition to private insurers. But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from repeating the claim.
For several months, we’ve been debunking assertions that Democratic health care bills call for a Canadian or British-type system in which everyone is insured,

Boehner Misrepresents FactCheck.org’s Findings

Last week House Republican Leader John Boehner’s office issued a "Leader Alert" titled "10 Facts Every American Should Know About Speaker Pelosi’s 1,990-Page Gov’t Takeover of Health Care."
It’s a partisan document containing misleading characterizations of the bill. But the bullet point that bothers us most is #2, which reads:

MASSIVE CUTS TO MEDICARE BENEFITS FOR SENIORS. Despite grave warnings from CBO, FactCheck.org, and the independent Lewin Group that cuts to Medicare of the magnitude included in Speaker Pelosi’s bill would have a negative impact on seniors’