The Fact Checker: Nancy Pelosi

The claim that 98 percent of Catholic women use contraception: a media foul

 

“98 percent of Catholic women, I am told by all of you, use birth control to determine the size and timing of their families.”

--House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Feb. 16, 2012

Ever since the battle erupted between Catholic bishops and the Obama administration over providing free contraception coverage as part of health plans for workers, a striking figure has appeared in the news — that 98 percent of Catholic women have used contraceptives.

 “Birth-control is widely used even by Catholics: 98 percent of American Catholic women have used contraception in their lifetimes.”

The Washington Post, Feb. 12

 

“In fact, 98 percent of Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lifetimes.”

National Public Radio, Feb. 10

 

“Studies have shown that 98 percent of Catholic women have used artificial contraception at some time in their lives.”

The New York Times, Feb. 10

 Small wonder that Pelosi cited the media — “I am told by all of you” — when she made her comment on Thursday. But what does this figure really mean and where does it come from?

 

The Facts

 The 98-percent figure first appeared in an April 2011 study written by Rachel K. Jones and Joerg Dreweke of the Guttmacher Institute, which is a non-profit organization that promotes reproductive health and had started as an arm of Planned Parenthood. The study is titled “Countering Conventional Wisdom: New Evidence on Religion and Contraceptive Use.”

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Nancy Pelosi’s misfire on job and tax-cut claims


(Alex Wong/GETTY IMAGES)

“The payroll tax cut that the president proposed would put $1,500 in the pockets of 160 million Americans. The unemployment insurance extension is not only good for individuals, it has macroeconomic impacts. As the Macroeconomic Advisers have stated, it would make a difference of 600,000 jobs to our economy.”

— House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Dec. 15, 2011

With the days ticking toward the end of the year, Democrats and Republicans have been battling over the best way to extend a payroll tax cut and unemployment insurance for the long-term unemployed.

In a news conference Thursday, appearing to look at notes, Pelosi laid out her case for swift action. How well did she make it?

The Facts

Pelosi cited two key figures — how much money the tax cut would bring to working Americans and how many jobs would be created from extending unemployment insurance. She managed to mangle both.

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Newt Gingrich tries to rewrite history of his ethics scandal (Fact Checker biography)


(Jim Young, Reuters)

“It tells you how capriciously political [the House ethics] committee was that she was on it. It tells you how tainted the outcome was that she was on it.”
— Newt Gingrich, Dec. 5, 2011, talking to reporters about suggestions from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that she could reveal secret information from a 1990s House ethics investigation of the current GOP front-runner.
“I think what it does is it reminds people who probably didn't know this that she was on the ethics committee, that it was a very partisan political committee, and that the way I was dealt with related more to the politics of the Democratic Party than the ethics.”
— Gingrich, Dec. 6, 2011, answering questions about Pelosi and the ethics investigation during interview with Greta Van Susteren on Fox News.
“The attrition effect on your members of that many ads and that many charges just gradually wore down people, and I gradually lost the ability to lead, because I was so battered by the process.”
— Gingrich, Dec. 7, 2011, during a meeting with the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Gingrich made these comments after Pelosi hinted that she could reveal damaging information about him “when the time’s right,” thanks to her involvement with a 1990 ethics investigation of the now-surging GOP candidate — a case that led to the first congressional reprimand of a House speaker.

We don’t question that Democrats relished the chance to nail Gingrich for ethics violations, especially after he gave the same treatment to former Democratic House speaker Jim Wright in 1988. But justice can still run its course fairly and impartially when enemies have blown the whistle, even if they enjoy watching you squirm.

We examined the congressional ethics committee that reprimanded Gingrich to find out more about its makeup. Was the panel truly as partisan as the Republican front-runner suggests, or has this prolific alternative-history writer crafted yet another fiction?

THE FACTS

The congressional ethics panel that investigated Gingrich — when the GOP controlled the House — consisted of four Democrats and four Republicans, a perfectly bipartisan group that voted 7-1 to reprimand the then-speaker. Furthermore, the House voted 395 to 28 to support the committee’s decision, with backing from 196 Republicans.

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