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InsiderOnline Blog: August 2011

PolitiFact Spins

PolitiFact says its mission is finding the truth in American politics, but a couple of its recent fact-checking efforts look more like spin jobs for the Left.

Last month, the Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin PolitiFact franchises all rated House Speaker John Boehner’s Tweet, “POTUS’ economists: ‘Stimulus’ Has Cost $278,000 per job,” as false. If you do the math, Boehner’s numbers are right, but PolitFact said his claim is false because not all of the stimulus was spent on salaries.

As Jeffrey Anderson at the Weekly Standard points out, the question isn’t the size of salaries paid by government, but whether the stimulus did in fact stimulate the economy. The White House told us that all government spending has a multiplier effect (i.e., it creates jobs). Did PolitiFact not read the news that day?

Meanwhile, PolitiFact Florida has issues with the Reason Foundation study relied on by Florida Governor Rick Scott to reject a high-speed rail project. PolitiFact essentially said there’s no reason to think Reason’s analysis of historical cost overruns is relevant to Florida’s project. At Reason’s Hit-and-Run blog, Robert Poole, the author of the original report, responds in part:

Actually, there is quite a bit of evidence that Florida could expect at least average overruns. The Reason Foundation projections were based in part on a detailed 11-point comparison between the Tampa-to-Orlando line's claimed construction costs and a segment of the proposed California rail line on similar flat and level terrain. And Florida appeared to be underestimating its costs significantly. Just last week, the California High-Speed Rail Authority revised its own cost projections for the first segment upwards by between approximately 40 and 100 percent.

PolitiFact, by the way, thinks it relevant to its rating to note that Reason is a “rail skeptic.” Aren’t fact checkers supposed to be skeptics?

Posted on 08/19/11 12:48 PM by Alex Adrianson

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