Pants on Fire!
"Congress Approves Bill Offering Free Cars To Welfare Recipients." on Sunday, November 2nd, 2014 in a web post

Social media post says Barack Obama-backed bill will offer free cars to welfare recipients

This web article from American News is based on a fictitious story, notwithstanding its 83,000 Facebook likes so far.

Does the "welfare queen" now have a new car and gas card to go along with her trusty Obama phone? A recent claim circulating on the Internet says she does.

A reader recently sent us a November American News article that says welfare recipients will be eligible for a free vehicle and receive a monthly $100 gas card beginning Jan. 15 under new legislation proposed by President Barack Obama. The article said:

"Recently, the White House announced a plan to offer free vehicles to welfare recipients. According to reports, the bill passed in a narrow vote. The program was initiated by President Barack Obama, and in many way mirrors what has become known as ‘The Obama Phone’, or the program through which welfare recipients can get free cell phone service.

"John Earnest announced the program launch, stating ‘The free automobile program gives low-income Americans the opportunity to take ownership of a vehicle at no cost, and will also include a monthly gas card for $100.’

"Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell told reporters that this passing will be the downfall of President Obama.

" ‘This absurd plan that the democrats have conjured up is beyond belief. I have no idea how or why congress passed this,’ McConnell stated."

The story earned more than 80,000 Facebook likes by Nov. 17, but here’s the deal: It's not accurate. There was no such bill proposed by the Obama administration, and Congress did not pass any such measure. The White House spokesman is Josh Earnest, not John Earnest. (The premise is also kind of amusing -- Congress hasn’t been in the habit of passing Obama initiatives for some time now, whether by a "narrow" margin or not.)

Rather, the claim originated at an acknowledged fake-news site.

First, let’s dispense with the old claim about "Obama phones." This claim is, at best, greatly exaggerated. We’ve checked various versions and found that their accuracy rated from Mostly False to False to Pants on Fire.

As for the idea that the federal government has established a welfare program involving no-cost gas cards and cars for low-income Americans -- well, this is pure fiction.

The story was originally posted on Empire News in August. Empire News offers a disclaimer on its About page: "Empire News is a satirical and entertainment website. We only use invented names in all our stories, except in cases when public figures are being satirized. Any other use of real names is accidental and coincidental."

We have debunked other Empire News claims, such as one in a story headlined, "Obama Signs Bill Forgiving All Student Loan Debt" (this one got a Pants on Fire) and another that said a judge in Austin, Texas, sentenced a 34-year-old man to death row after committing his third offense for marijuana possession. Some of the site’s other posts have headlines like "New Hollywood Trend Has Celebrities Getting Baby Pig Semen Injections To Look Younger" and "Kanye West Insists On Nobel Prize, Claims He ‘Brings Peace’ Everywhere He Goes." The fact checkers at busted the claim earlier this fall.

The article then made its way to American News, a site that received a "Pants on Fire!" last week for a claim that "death panels" under the Affordable Care Act had recently executed their first patient.

American News offers a mixture of ads and has no information about the site or who runs it. But it includes many fake, yet often nominally believable, articles ripped from other sources that attract clicks from social media users and, presumably, Web revenue for American News.

Footnote: Although Obama has not proposed a federal program that offers welfare recipients a car and monthly gas cards for free, his 2012 opponent -- former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, a Republican -- actually implemented one. The Massachusetts program that gave low-income Massachusetts residents vehicles and paid for various related expenses, such as insurance and AAA membership, according to a 2012 ABC News article.

Our ruling

This post on social media claims that welfare recipients, thanks to Obama, will be eligible for a free vehicle and monthly gas cards. But it was ripped straight from a fake news website. We rate the claim Pants on Fire.