Border Crisis Is the New Death Panels

The GOP’s Death Panels were Politifact’s inaugural ‘Lie of the Year’ in 2009

Trump and his surrogates have spent the two weeks since Trump shut down the government promoting their latest big lie — that there is a crisis at the southern border.

But after years of being on the receiving end of Trump’s lies, the media ain’t buying it. Check out this list of fact-check articles about the Oval Office speech he gave last night from mainstream media outlets:

Even Fox News — yes, Fox News — fact checked the speech immediately after it was over.

This conspiracy by the White House and its allies to create a false reality — to manufacture a dire threat where none exists — is familiar to us all now. Just two months ago, in the run-up to the 2018 midterms in November, they engaged in the same sort of fear mongering about the caravan of migrants heading to the border.

Miraculously, within 24 hours after the election, the threat went away. But the result of that gambit was disastrous. Republican lost a record number of seats in the House.

It’s also familiar because lying is a Republican strong suit — in recent memory, it’s mostly all they’ve got.

But this “crisis at the border” lie is a big one. It brings to mind one of their classics.

In 2009 congressional Republicans and their surrogates and allied pundits pulled out all the stops to prevent the Affordable Care Act from becoming law.

“Ironic” seems too gentle a description of the craven hypocrisy of their campaign, particularly because the individual mandate, a key component of the ACA, was the Republicans’ own plan for solving the health-insurance crisis.

The individual mandate plan was developed at the right-wing Heritage Foundation “think” tank in the 1980s and first put into operation in 2006 under a Republican governor in Massachusetts.

That governor was Mitt Romney, who, of course, became the GOP presidential nominee in 2012.

To deflect attention from their hypocrisy about the individual mandate in 2009, Republicans went to their strong suit: lying.

They developed a conspiracy of falsehood about the ACA, including their biggest lie, one that was intended to strike fear in older people, people in poor health and those who loved them.

They claimed falsely, without a whit of evidence, that the law would set up “death panels” of doctors and bureaucrats who would decide which patients were worthy of receiving healthcare and, of course, which should be left to waste away and die.

This lie was so egregious that Politifact awarded it its first-ever
“Lie of the Year” award
in 2009. Here’s what Politifact wrote at the time:

Of all the falsehoods and distortions in the political discourse this year, one stood out from the rest.

“Death panels.”

The claim set political debate afire when it was made in August, raising issues from the role of government in health care to the bounds of acceptable political discussion. In a nod to the way technology has transformed politics, the statement wasn’t made in an interview or a television ad. Sarah Palin posted it on her Facebook page.

Her assertion — that the government would set up boards to determine whether seniors and the disabled were worthy of care — spread through newscasts, talk shows, blogs and town hall meetings. Opponents of health care legislation said it revealed the real goals of the Democratic proposals. Advocates for health reform said it showed the depths to which their opponents would sink. Still others scratched their heads and said, “Death panels? Really ?”

In 2009 the “liberal media” played along with Republicans. They treated their completely made-up assertions about the death panels as a serious policy dispute. It was debated endlessly on cable news programs, and each debate made the existence of the panels seem even more likely.

Even though nothing remotely like a death panel was mentioned in the law.

More importantly, the media consistently ignored the fact that the ACA was in fact based on the Republicans’ own plan for health-insurance reform. And they still fail to grasp this key fact, to this day.

One result from last night’s big lie in Oval Office proved that Trump has had one positive affect on our politics — he’s pushed the Fourth Estate to their limit.

Today, at least, the media is calling bullshit on the totally made-up border crisis.

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