Monday, September 22nd, 2014

PolitiFact's Top 5 fact-checks for March

We don't often get to fact-check claims about dinosaurs. (iStock photo)
We don't often get to fact-check claims about dinosaurs. (iStock photo)

In March, we continued our fact-checking on health care, along with other fact-checks on the perks of the presidency. Here’s our top 5 list of the most popular fact-checks for the month of March.

Who took more vacation, Obama or Bush?

We have a suspicion that criticism of First Lady Michelle Obama’s trip to China with her children breathed new life into this fact-check from our archives. The statement is from last year, when the Rev. Al Sharpton of MSNBC’s PoliticsNation defended President Barack Obama from critics who said he took too much vacation time. Sharpton told viewers on Aug. 12, 2013, that Obama "has taken 92 days of vacation since he was sworn in. How many did President (George W.) Bush take by the same point in his presidency? Three hundred and sixty seven. Yes, more than a full year of vacation."

Sharpton’s numbers came from the leading authority on presidential vacation, CBS News’ Mark Knoller. But Bush often worked from his family home in Texas, while Obama doesn’t have a similar retreat. The statement is accurate but needs clarification or additional information, so we rate it Mostly True.

Who was the first president to disregard a law passed by Congress?

Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference on March 6, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, criticized Obama for taking unilateral action on health care, immigration, marijuana and same-sex marriage. "This president of the United States is the first president we've ever had who thinks he can choose which laws to enforce and which laws to ignore," Cruz said.

We questioned whether Obama was the first president to take significant executive action on a controversial issue, and sure enough, we found many examples from the historical record that contradicted Cruz’s claim. We rated the statement False.

Have millions of people lost insurance because of Obamacare?

In a press conference on March 13, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said there are fewer people today with health insurance than there were before the law went into effect. A reporter asked him if he really meant that. Boehner doubled down.

"When you look at the 6 million Americans who've lost their policies, and (government officials) claim 4.2 million who've signed up — I don't know how many have actually paid for it — that would indicate to me a net loss of people with health insurance," Boehner said. "And I actually do believe that to be the case."

It would be ironic if a law aimed at expanding coverage actually reduced it. Our reporting, though, showed the law is expanding coverage, and more people do seem to be getting signed up for insurance. We explained exactly why Boehner’s assumption was faulty and rated his statement False.

Are millions paying more but getting less under Obamacare?

We haven’t heard someone say that the health care law is causing people to pay more for less, so we decided to check it out. The claim came from a TV ad from the conservative political group Americans for Prosperity.

We found that some people might be paying more, but they’re also getting more because of laws that required comprehensive insurance policies. In some cases, they’re actually paying less. We rated the statement False.

Did Rand Paul or Marco Rubio claim that humans drove dinosaurs to extinction?

A Facebook meme side-by-side images of Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., looking somewhat sheepish. Bolded text under the images describes the senators’ views on the age of the Earth and the extinction of the dinosaurs.

According to the meme, Rubio "believes Earth (is) 9,000 years old," and "humans hunted dinosaurs to extinction." Paul, the image proclaims, says the Earth is 10,000 years old and believes "God made dinosaurs disappear to make space for humans." The post received about 5,500 likes and was shared more than 4,000 times.

We found those opinions were entirely fabricated (though interestingly, both senators have been asked about their views on the age of the earth). We rated the meme’s claim Pants on Fire!