Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sen. Barack Obama fails scrutiny

I received this email from - a respected independent verifier of all sorts of statements put out to the public. Specifically, they are Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania.

As I continue to write, it is not the lies that come from the mouth of Sen. Obama that demonstrate a lack of integrity - sometimes speakers make mistakes.

The problem with Sen. Obama is that he will continue to make lying statements in the face of knowing they are lying statements.

It is the fact that he will lie - knowing he is lying - that is the fatal character flaw.

As for sourcing, I don't know of anyone who believes an Ivy League university is part and parcel of some "right-wing conspiracy." is trusted in the research circles of the first-tier information organizations.

Please visit

to see what they do and how they do it.

The unedited text of the email is reproduced below:

Dear Subscriber: We have posted an important update to yesterday's article regarding competing claims about the Obama and Clinton healthcare plans. We find a new ad by Obama to be misleading and in one respect false.

The following is the new material we added today:


* Update, Feb. 15: A new Obama ad in Wisconsin misrepresents the words of former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, falsely claiming he said the Obama plan produced greater savings than the Clinton plan.


Obama's Misleading Ad

Update, Feb. 15: This section was added after our original item was posted.

The Obama campaign released a new ad Feb. 14 in Wisconsin called "Debate," quoting Bill Clinton’s first Secretary of Labor, Robert Reich, as saying Obama’s plan covers “more people” than Clinton's. We find the ad misleading and, in one respect, false.

Obama Ad: "Debate"

Narrator: After 18 debates, with two more coming, Hillary says Barrack Obama’s ducking debates?

It’s the same old politics of phony charges and false attacks.

On health care, even Bill Clinton’s own labor secretary says Obama covers more people than Hillary, and does more to cut costs, saving twenty-five hundred dollars for the typical family.

Obama’s housing plan? It stems foreclosures and cracks down on crooked lenders. That’s change we can believe in.

Obama: I’m Barrack Obama and I approved this message.

It’s true that Reich expressed the opinion <> on his blog back on Dec. 3 that Obama's plan covers "more people" than Clinton's. That was in an item criticizing Clinton for “stooping . . . low” to attack Obama for wanting to bolster Social Security’s finances and for not including a mandate in his health-care plan:

Reich, Dec. 3, 2007: I’ve compared the two plans in detail. Both of them are big advances over what we have now. But in my view Obama’s would insure more people, not fewer, than HRC’s. That’s because Obama’s puts more money up front and contains sufficient subsidies to insure everyone who’s likely to need help – including all children and young adults up to 25 years old.

More recently, however, Reich has not been so emphatic. In a Jan. 13 item he found the plans of Obama and Clinton to be “the same” in almost every important respect. While on Dec. 3 he said he thought Obama's plan would cover more people because it "puts more money up front," by Jan. 13 he said that all Democratic plans "spend nearly an identical amount of money." On the question of whether Clinton or Obama's position on mandates is best, he said <> , “Who's correct? It's hard to know.” He urged the Democratic candidates to “stop squabbling over healthcare mandates.”

Reich did not, however, state in any of his blog items that the Obama plan "does more to cut costs" or that it saves $2,500 for the typical family. Those are claims made by the Obama campaign, not by Reich as the ad falsely claims. And we're skeptical of the claims that both Clinton and Obama make about the lavish savings their plans would produce, for reasons we get to later in this article.

Reich is a professor of public policy and has been in a running feud with another liberal professor, Paul Krugman, a Yale economist who writes a column for the New York Times and who has been attacking Obama and his healthcare plan in that space and on his own blog. Reich’s most recent word on the subject, in fact, is headlined “Krugman Still Has it Wrong on Obama’s and Hillary Clinton’s Health Care Plans <> ,” which simply refers readers back to his Jan. 13 posting which says it’s “hard to know” which is best.

We note here that both Reich and Krugman are best known for their liberal commentary and neither is a specialist in healthcare economics. Also, Reich states in his Jan. 13 article that “Only around 3% of the population” would be left without health insurance in the absence of mandated coverage for adults. He doesn’t say where he got this figure. We find that hard to reconcile with the hard fact that millions of Americans are currently eligible for cheap health insurance and still don’t sign up for it. As mentioned earlier, for example, about three-quarters of the 9 million uninsured children in the U.S. are eligible for SCHIP or Medicaid, and Gruber estimates that about 7 million adults don’t take advantage of the health insurance their employers offer now. We therefore give more weight to the estimates of Sheils and Gruber than to Reich's.

Note: For the full article including video of the ads, please see our Web site:

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