Congressional Record

Arizona Congressmen Repeat "Lie of the Year" About "Obamacare," and Vernon Parker's Set to Run It on TV

The thought that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act -- also known as "Obamacare" -- is a "government takeover" of health care has been repeated over, and over, and over again since the spring of 2009.

That thought earned the label of "Lie of the Year" by PolitiFact, a fact-checking outlet operated by the Tampa Bay Times.

It's false enough that PolitiFact nestled it between the imaginary "death panels" and the thought that Republican Congressman Paul Ryan's voucher plan would "end Medicare" as the gold-medalists for bullshittery.

And still, some of Arizona's own are repeating it to this day.

Republican state Senator Nancy Barto, chairman of the Senate Healthcare and Medical Liability Reform Committee, repeated it yesterday along with other debunked talking points in her rant about the Affordable Care Act.

Congressman Ben Quayle got in on the action too, issuing a statement saying he would "continue to fight every day for the full repeal of this government takeover of health care."

Quayle also said the law "harms the ability of businesses to offer health insurance, or even hire new workers," and a similar analysis by PolitiFact found that claim questionable.

Congressman Paul Gosar isn't a fan of the Affordable Care Act either, in part calling it a "monstrous government takeover."

Then there's Paradise Valley Councilman Vernon Parker, who's running for Congress as a Republican in the state's Ninth Congressional District.

His campaign announced that Parker's new ad about the Affordable Care Act will be hitting your television sets on Monday.

Parker's opening line in the ad: "Obamacare. It was a travesty. An abomination. A big government takeover of health care."

"'Government takeover' conjures a European approach where the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees," PolitiFact's explanation of the "Lie of the Year" states. "But the law Congress passed, parts of which have already gone into effect, relies largely on the free market."

The fact-checkers note several of the main points to debunk the "government takeover" angle.

Employers will still provide insurance through private companies. The formerly uninsured who will get health insurance will get private health insurance. The government literally will not take over hospitals or make doctors public employees. There's no public option. Tax credits for folks who can't readily afford to purchase insurance equate to regulation, not socialism.

In fact, PolitiFact equates most of the things in the law to increased government regulation of health care, not socialized medicine or a "government takeover."

The point of the phrase, perhaps, is that it's been repeated enough times that it works.

PolitiFact cites a Bloomberg poll that found more than half of the people polled believed the line about the Affordable Care Act amounted to a "government takeover" of health care.

Click here for PolitiFact's explanation for crowning the "government takeover" line as the "Lie of the Year" for 2010.

Even since handing over the gold medal to that line, PolitiFact regularly catches people trying to use it as a talking point, and the fact-checkers have been reminding everyone it's not true ever since, as recently as earlier this month.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley