PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'A government takeover of health care'
By Bill Adair, Angie Drobnic Holan / politifact.com
Dec 18, 2010

In the spring of 2009, a Republican strategist settled on a brilliant and powerful attack line for President Barack Obama's ambitious plan to overhaul America's health insurance system. Frank Luntz, a consultant famous for his phraseology, urged GOP leaders to call it a "government takeover."

"Takeovers are like coups," Luntz wrote in a 28-page memo. "They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom."

The line stuck. By the time the health care bill was headed toward passage in early 2010, Obama and congressional Democrats had sanded down their program, dropping the "public option" concept that was derided as too much government intrusion. The law passed in March, with new regulations, but no government-run plan.

But as Republicans smelled serious opportunity in the midterm elections, they didn't let facts get in the way of a great punchline. And few in the press challenged their frequent assertion that under Obama, the government was going to take over the health care industry.

PolitiFact editors and reporters have chosen "government takeover of health care" as the 2010 Lie of the Year. Uttered by dozens of politicians and pundits, it played an important role in shaping public opinion about the health care plan and was a significant factor in the Democrats' shellacking in the November elections.

Readers of PolitiFact, the St. Petersburg Times' independent fact-checking website, also chose it as the year's most significant falsehood by an overwhelming margin. (Their second-place choice was Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that Obama was going to spend $200 million a day on a trip to India, a falsity that still sprouts.)

By selecting "government takeover' as Lie of the Year, PolitiFact is not making a judgment on whether the health care law is good policy.

The phrase is simply not true.

4.3 ·
2


Love Films For Action? 

Films For Action empowers citizens with the information and perspectives essential to creating a more just, sustainable, and democratic society.

If you feel like you get some value from this library, consider making a donation today. Every little bit helps.

Trending Today
Black Friday Is Buy Nothing Day: Here Are 10 Films to Inspire a Joyous Shopping-Free Holiday
Tim Hjersted6,591 views today ·
In the Absence of the Village, Mothers Struggle Most
Beth Berry4,915 views today ·
The Canary Effect: Kill the Indian, Save the Man (2006)
63 min2,938 views today ·
This Is How Globalized Capitalism Operates Today
4 min2,689 views today ·
This Incredible Animated Short Film Says So Much Without Saying a Word
13 min2,151 views today ·
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min1,909 views today ·
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley1,099 views today ·
Profit Is Theft: It Sounds Absurd but Here's Why
Tim Hjersted801 views today ·
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad683 views today ·
Load More
Join us on Facebook
PolitiFact's Lie of the Year: 'A government takeover of health care'