Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

In February's High Five race: Barack Obama, Scott Walker and some other guys

No, we didn't fact-check Dale Earnhardt Jr. in February 2014. But, the topics in our most popular items -- wage stagnation, federal "reneging" and ice fishing among them -- covered the map like ads on a race car.
No, we didn't fact-check Dale Earnhardt Jr. in February 2014. But, the topics in our most popular items -- wage stagnation, federal "reneging" and ice fishing among them -- covered the map like ads on a race car.

The PolitiFact Wisconsin articles that got the most page-views in February 2014 are a little like the advertising on a NASCAR racing car.

All over the map.

Wage stagnation. "Rape audits." A charge of the federal government reneging.

Even ice fishing.

So, hold on tight as we take a lap around the track with this month’s High Five.

1. Wages

On a visit to Waukesha, President Barack Obama said "most folks' wages haven't gone up in over a decade."

We rated his claim Mostly True.

It’s not possible to know, considering all Americans, whether most of them saw a wage increase in the period cited by the president. But he relied on the best-available figure, which shows the  median weekly wage, adjusted for inflation, was $1 less at the end of 2013 than it was in 1999.

2. Scott Walker

With Gov. Scott Walker back in the national spotlight following the release of 27,000 pages of emails, we looked back at five recent items we’d done on him.

They covered three key themes of Walker’s tenure in Madison -- jobs, taxes and fiscal prudence.

3. "Rape audits"

The Wisconsin Democratic Party claimed that a bill backed by U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin and other Republicans "could actually require the Internal Revenue Service to conduct audits of rape victims."

We rated the statement False.

The version of the bill criticized by the party, which would have prohibited taxpayers from claiming a medical expense deduction for an abortion, except in cases of rape or incest, did not contain any audit requirements.

4. Federal reneging?

Explaining his rejection of federal money to fully expand Medicaid coverage, Walker said "federal government reneging" on Medicaid payments to Wisconsin caused about $240 million in extra costs to the state.

That earned the governor a False.

Typical cost-sharing fluctuations, based mainly on a longstanding formula, explain the extra state burden -- not any reversal of course or pulling back on a commitment by Washington.

5. Ice fishing

U.S. Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Wisconsin, said that because of climate change, ice fishermen in Wisconsin "are already noticing fewer days they can be out on our ice covered lakes."

We noted that even though it’s been a longer and colder winter than in recent years, that doesn’t erase a trend that’s been well-established. The number of days that the lakes have ice on them -- making them safe for ice fishing -- has declined.

Bonus clicks

You might also be interested in items from further back in our archive that continue to get many page-views:

-- From December 2013, a deep dive into controversial claims about Walker’s time as a student at Marquette University and his entry into politics.

-- From November 2013, a claim by the liberal One Wisconsin Now advocacy group, which we rated True, that the wealth of the Wal-Mart Walton family is equal to the wealth of "the bottom 42 percent of Americans."

-- From May 2013, an In Context look at the testy exchange between U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., and then-Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton over Benghazi.

To comment on this item, go to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s web page.

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