Obamacare

PolitiFact's 2013 Lie of the Year Was Half True in 2012

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Whitehouse.gov

The main thing one learns from PolitiFact's 2013 Lie of the Year Award is that PolitiFact is not very good at determining what does or does not constitute a lie, or a fact, at the time it's actually utttered. 

Yesterday, the fact-checking organization named President Obama's oft-repeated promise that individuals who like their health plans can keep them under Obamacare its 2013 Lie of the Year. 

Given that Obama first uttered his promise years ago, this might seem a bit late. Especially since, as PolitiFact editor Angie Holan notes in a column on the award, the organization rated that same promise "half true" in both 2009 and 2012, which Holan says means the statement was "partially correct and partially wrong." 

So it was partially true then, but it's the Lie of the Year now? That's quite an evolution—and one that doesn't exactly offer a strong reason to trust the organization's real-time fact-checking prowess. 

Indeed, PolitiFact's judgment on this particular Obama claim has actually shifted even more over the years. As The Washington Examiner's Sean Higgins points out, PolitiFact rated Obama's statement that "if you've got a health care plan that you like, you can keep it" as "true" back in 2008, when Obama was campaigning for president. The reasoning behind that call: "Obama is accurately describing his health care plan here. He advocates a program that seeks to build on the current system, rather than dismantling it and starting over." As millions of people have already discovered, however, even building on the existing system turns out to require tearing some parts of it down.