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1: The absurd claim that only Republicans are to blame for cuts to Ebola research
An ad by the Agenda Project Action Fund, claiming that “Republican cuts kill,” was emblematic of an emerging Democratic talking point — that GOP budget cuts have harmed the nation’s ability to handle the Ebola outbreak. But the claim fell apart completely when The Fact Checker dug into the budget numbers. President Obama’s Republican predecessor oversaw big increases in public-health sector spending, and both Democrats and Republicans in recent years have broadly supported efforts to rein in federal spending. There’s no doubt that spending has been cut, or at least failed to keep pace with inflation, but the fingerprints of both parties are on the knives. We gave the blame game Four Pinocchios.
2: Alison Grimes doubles down on a 4-Pinocchio claim
The Democratic candidate challenging Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stood in front of the camera and, putting her credibility on the line, uttered statements that she must have known are false. Her central claim — that McConnell had pocketed $600,000 from anti-coal groups — had already earned Four Pinocchios. The claim was based on money earned by McConnell’s wife, much of which came from being on a board of a bank that finances coal companies. But Grimes also accused McConnell of failing to get the right environmental equipment for a privately-held power plant — which is not a senator’s job. We labeled this as possibly the worst ad of the campaign year — and then the McConnell campaign use the fact check in a particularly dismaying way.
3: Rand Paul’s claim that the White House suggested Ebola transmission is like AIDS
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) accused the White House of suggesting that the Ebola virus was transmitted like HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. But that was not the case; the administration only suggested that Ebola was a public-health emergency of the same potential scale as AIDS. Both AIDS and Ebola are not airborne viruses, but it should be clear to anyone watching the news that Ebola is spread differently from AIDS, given the required attire of hospital staff treating Ebola patients. Indeed, administration officials, from the president on down, have emphasized that people should not touch Ebola patients. Paul earned Three Pinocchios.
4: Iraq WMD: Does the New York Times probe reflect what administration officials claimed?
A New York Times investigation into military casualties of Iraq’s abandoned chemical weapons inspired some commentary that this proves that the George W. Bush administration’s assertions about Iraq’s WMD programs turned out to be correct. But in reality, the Bush administration staked its WMD claims on an active, ongoing program that was restarted after the 1991 invasion of Kuwait — and the weapons that were found were manufactured before the Kuwait conflict. As a reader service, The Fact Checker provided examples of Bush administration claims made before the 2003 war started. We preemptively declared that anyone who claims that the New York Times story vindicates George W. Bush-era claims of Iraq WMD automatically earns Four Pinocchios.
5: Mitch McConnell’s puzzling claims on insurance in Kentucky, post-Obamacare
In his campaign to win a sixth term to the Senate, McConnell had some difficulty with the Obamacare issue because the Kentucky version, known as Kynect, has been a huge success. About half a million Kentuckians signed up for health insurance, many receiving it for the first time. So McConnell threaded a very difficult needle, suggesting that the Web site can continue while the law that created it must be scrapped. Ultimately, we concluded that his statements on Obamacare are a bit slick and misleading. If he wants to rip out Obamacare “root and branch,” then he has to explain what he would plant in the health-insurance garden instead. He earned Three Pinocchios.
5: Obama’s claim that Obamacare has helped produce an ‘$1,800 tax cut’
The president trotted it out a new talking point — that the slowdown in rising health-care premiums meant that the average family was getting an “$1,800 tax cut” because of the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. We examined the math behind this statement, but it was a difficult claim to judge. The math adds up, but the results depend a lot on what window of time you use for comparison — and also how much you attribute the difference to the Affordable Care Act. We ended up giving Two Pinocchios to Obama, but in retrospect we might have been a bit generous.
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