The Truth-O-Meter report card on Michele Bachmann
About a year ago, the New York Times published an article about our ratings on Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Republican from Minnesota who had never earned anything higher than a False.
Since then, many PolitiFact readers -- particularly in Minnesota -- have kept tabs on our Bachmann ratings. With the publication of our newest fact-check on Bachmann, we thought it would be a good time to update our report card.
Bachmann has scored five Pants on Fire ratings, plus six False ratings. After 11 encounters with the Truth-O-Meter, Bachmann continues to hold the rare distinction of an all-False/Pants on Fire record.
Today's item checks a statement she made during the Values Voter Summit, a conference for socially conservative activists on Sept. 17, 2010. At one point, Bachmann took a shot at the woman who leads her chamber, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Pelosi, Bachmann said, "has been busy sticking the taxpayer with her $100,000 bar tab for alcohol on the military jets that she's flying." Bachmann was referring to the Air Force jets that Pelosi uses to fly internationally and back to her home in San Francisco. We concluded that Bachmann, or her staff, had failed to read the original study accurately, and as a result, she cited a figure for alcohol expenditures that was vastly disproportionate to the actual amount spent. We rated it Pants on Fire.
Here's a look at our previous checks of Bachmann:
• "Social Security, like I told you, is out of money. This year it is borrowing from the general treasury.”
We concluded that Social Security isn"t yet out of money, nor is it borrowing from the general treasury, as Bachmann said. According to the latest projections, the money won"t run dry until 2037. We rated her statement False.
• "The New England Journal of Medicine released a survey the week that President Obama signed Obamacare stating that over 30 percent of American physicians would leave the profession if the government took over health care."
We concluded that Bachmann may have been confused about the source of the survey, which was confusingly labeled. But we also concluded that Bachmann sensationalized the results by saying that "30 percent of American physicians would leave the profession" if the health care bill passed. In fact, the survey language was that they would "try to leave" or "try to retire early" if it passed. We rated her claim False.
• "President Obama's bill won't bring down the costs (of health care) for average Americans -- or really for very few Americans, if any." According to the Congressional Budget Office, Congress' official, non-partisan scorekeeper, 60 percent of Americans in the private insurance market would see their premiums fall. Taking into account the subsidies, a full 70 percent would see their premiums fall. And almost 94 percent would see their premiums either fall or stay the same. We found her claim False.
• Page 92 of the House health care bill "says specifically that people can't purchase private health insurance after a date certain." We wrote that under the health care bill, people who already get private coverage from their employer would continue to do so and should be able to shop for new plans with different coverage. People who are self-employed or work for small businesses could buy private insurance through the new exchange. We found that Bachmann wasn't just guilty of misinterpreting the language from one page of the bill but had taken that misinterpretation to a ridiculous extreme. There is no question that the plan would rely on a marketplace of private insurance. So we rated her claim Pants on Fire.
• Ezekiel Emanuel, one of President Obama's key health care advisers, "says medical care should be reserved for the nondisabled. So watch out if you're disabled." We found this claim to be a gross distortion of Emanuel's position, lifted out of context from an academic paper in which he poses philosophical ideas but doesn't necessary endorse them. We noted that he had unequivocally stated a public position against euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide. So we ruled Bachmann's statement False.
• ACORN will be a paid partner with the Census Bureau and "they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public." We wrote that ACORN would not be "in charge" of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public, as Bachmann had said; the U.S. Census would be in charge of that. Some of the 1.4 million people who get Census-taking jobs may learn about the job through ACORN, but workers who applied to the Census through ACORN would not have a better shot at getting a job than those who applied through any of 30,000 other partners. We concluded that she made a scaremongering claim with facts that were ridiculously wrong. So we rated it a Pants on Fire.
• Says the Constitution only requires her to tell the census "how many people are in our home." One expert told us that Bachmann's claims that the Constitution only requires people to say how many people live in their household is "completely baseless." We found Bachmann not only wrong but engaging in fearmongering that encouraged people to break the law. We rated her comment Pants on Fire.
• ACORN "could get up to $8.5 billion more tax dollars despite being under investigation for voter registration fraud in a dozen states." We found Bachmann's comment to be irresponsibly misleading. She said that the group, which was under indictment for voter registration fraud, could tap into billions of federal dollars, yet none of the federal money it could conceivably get could be used for voter registration activities. We also found it absurd that ACORN could by itself secure all of the $8.5 billion in question. We ruled Bachmann's statement False.
• In the 1970s, "the swine flu broke out . . . under another Democrat, President Jimmy Carter." First, it was Gerald Ford, a Republican, not Carter who was in charge during the 1976 outbreak. Another Republican, Ronald Reagan, was president during a much smaller outbreak in 1988. But in addition to being wrong, we decided that Bachmann was being ridiculous in suggesting a partisan link and a deadly disease. We rated it a Pants on Fire.
• "Secretary Geithner has left the option on the table" of abandoning the dollar for a multinational currency. We found that Bachmann had mischaracterized Geithner's stance on a Chinese proposal. Geithner never considered pulling the greenback off the street in favor of a one-world currency. We rated the statement False.