There's a storied quote that holds just as much truth now as it did the first day it was said: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.”
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) referenced it Tuesday in an op-ed for the Hill, asserting that “conservatives believe in truth — embracing myths in public policy can be disastrous.” He attributed it to President Ronald Reagan — to many, a conservative icon.
But — perhaps ironically — the quote, about making up facts, did not come from Reagan.
It came from Daniel Patrick Moynihan — a Democrat who was well-known for the saying.
In the op-ed, Cassidy argued that “three myths about replacing ObamaCare must be dispelled” for a repeal and replacement to be successful. “The first myth is that replacing ObamaCare creates a 'new' entitlement to universal healthcare or health insurance that did not previously exist,” he wrote. “The second myth — cutting funding for coverage means that society saves money. The third — Republican politics demand a paltry replacement or none at all.”
As it stands now, Republican leaders' replacement bill would not pass Congress. Close to 60 GOP lawmakers in Congress — including Cassidy — have expressed concerns or outright opposition to it, for a variety of reasons.
Cassidy concluded his argument by referencing Moynihan's mantra.
“Ronald Reagan said that everyone is entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts,” he wrote. “The fact is that it is better to pay for the care that someone is going to receive no matter what, so as to maximize an American’s potential to contribute to society, than to instead pay for expensive, inefficient, episodic care which watches a patient decline and burdens families and society. We should maximize potential. It is good policy. It is good politics.”
(The op-ed has since been updated, removing the reference to Reagan.)
Asked about the apparent misattribution, a spokesman for Cassidy said Wednesday that he would look into it, then later noted that the op-ed had been updated. He did not provide a comment on the error and there was no correction appended to the article.
Here's an image from the original post:
And here's the updated version:
Moynihan served in the Cabinets or subcabinets for presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Richard M. Nixon and then Gerald Ford. He was a Democratic senator from New York from 1977 to 2001.
It's unclear when exactly Moynihan first spoke those memorable words, but in 1982, The Washington Post wrote that Alan Greenspan said Moynihan had advised his colleagues that they might be entitled to their own “value judgments,” but not to their own facts.
Then in a 1989 article in the New York Times, he was quoted as saying, “Everybody is entitled to their own opinions, but not their own facts.”
Moynihan's words have been referenced all over, including in a collection of his letters titled, “Daniel Patrick Moynihan: A Portrait in Letters of an American Visionary.” The book's editor, Steven Weisman, wrote in the introduction that Moynihan's quote about facts was “one of many comments that entered political lore and that, if applied, would make for a healthier national discourse today.”