The St. Petersburg Times’ Pulitzer Prize winning Politifact has its Truth-O-Meter look at Rep. Joe Wilson’s shouted “You lied!” to President Barack Obama and finds: Wilson erred.

It’s an extensive post that needs to be read in full, but here is the conclusion:

The best argument that we find that health reform would help illegal immigrants is that some might be able to purchase the public option — if it passes, and it might not — on the new health insurance exchange. They would purchase that at full cost. Obama’s said “the reforms I’m proposing would not apply to those who are here illegally,” which Wilson said was a “lie.” Actually, Obama can make a pretty thorough case that reform doesn’t apply to those here illegally. We don’t find the public option argument enough to make the case that Obama “lied.” We rate Wilson’s statement False.

Read it in its entirety.

It really won’t matter that Politifact won a Pulitzer or what it publishes here and in the future. You can even now hear on some talk radio and read in the new media people who recite the “lied” statement — if someone or a site doesn’t’ agree with them they must be part of a liberal plot, or the Democratic party payroll, or shilling for Obama — as a kind of mantra. If you say it over and over it must be true. (“Death panels…Obama wasn’t born here..He’ll indoctrinate school kids with socialism…Death panels…Obama wasn’t born here..He’ll indoctrinate school kids with socialism…He’ll indoctrinate school kids with socialism…Death panels…Obama wasn’t born here..Death panels…Obama wasn’t born here..He’ll indoctrinate schoolkids with socialism..” Some are even declaring Wilson “a great hero” and raising money for him. (John McCain and many other Republicans don’t quite consider Wilson a hero, even if they didn’t like other parts of Obama’s speech.) [UPDATE: A reader tells me Rush Limbaugh has also declared Wilson a hero, a further confirmation of the kind of politics that is being embraced and a seeming rejection of all the Republicans who found Wilson’s behavior repugnant.]

It’s clear that the GOP could face a long term problem. Companies need to expand their markets; the GOP needs to at least partially expand its base. If it isn’t now exactly stuck on stupid, it is now most assuredly stuck on polemics.

People like Wilson play not just to the party’s base but to basest form of politics that in the long run could turn off a large chunk of independent voters who recent polls showed were just starting to stray from Obama. Plus — as we have noted often here — there are thoughtful, serious-minded Republicans who seek positive solutions that won’t just solve problems but make their party a positive, affirmative, attractive choice over the Democratic alternative.

The attitude of some now enmeshed in the talk radio/Internet political culture will be “Politifact Politischmackt is part of the liberal media so they’re lying, too, and trying to help the Democrats! Rush, Glenn and Sean say Obama is lying and they never say anything that isn’t 100 percent accurate on their shows!”

And the Easter bunny will hide eggs in your house this April….

UPDATE: James Joyner sees what happened last night differently – -and has a different view on Politifact’s findings HERE.

See my earlier post.

UPDATE II: Obama has accepted Wilson’s apology. Here’s a chunk of what he told the press today, from Mark Halperin’s must-read The Page site:

Q Do you accept Wilson’s apology, sir?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I do. I’m a big believer that we all make mistakes. He apologized quickly and without equivocation, and I’m appreciative of that.

I do think that, as I said last night, we have to get to the point where we can have a conversation about big, important issues that matter to the American people without vitriol, without name-calling, without the assumption of the worst in other people’s motives.

We are all Americans; we all want to do best for our country. We’ve got different ideas, but for the most part, we have the same aims, which is to make sure that people who work hard in this country and who act responsibly are able to get good jobs, good wages, raise their families, make sure those kids have a good education; that they are protected from misfortune or accident by having health care and retirement security in place; want to keep people safe — and that’s why our national security team is so important.

Our goals are generally the same, whether we’re Democrats or Republicans, and in fact, most Americans don’t even think about those labels all that much. They are turned off when they see people using wild accusations, false claims, name-calling, sharply ideological approaches to solve problems. They want pragmatism; they want people to stay focused on the job. And I hope that some of the fever breaks a little bit.

The media can always be helpful by not giving all the attention to the loudest or shrillest voices, and try to stay a little bit more focused on the issues at hand.

Q Will you talk with him if he decides to call you?

THE PRESIDENT: Oh, I talk to everybody.

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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Copyright 2009 The Moderate Voice
  • Leonidas

    I saw the Polifact rating earlier Joe and I e-mailed the St petersburg times the bit about the democratic rejection of the amendment to apply SAVE procedures to the bill to provide enforcement of the no illegal alien provisons just like I did the NY Times, newsweek, and Politico as you requested. Claiming that the bill doesn’t provide opportunities for illegal alien to enroll, and at the same time torpedoing amendments that would give the bill some enforcement teeth on this is disingenuous on the part of Democrats. Polifact needs to do better homework.
    Nice to see James Joyner’s post and that not everyone was so sloppy.

    People like Wilson play not just to the party’s base but to basest form of politics that in the long run could turn off a large chunk of independent voters

    Is one remark said in the heat of a moment enough to make Joe Wilson a stereotype as in “People like Wilson”? Or has Wilson ever done other things that allow you to make that judgement of him and not just on the one act?

  • tidbits

    There’s a deeper question. Why not cover undocumented aliens? If part of the problem is people using emergency rooms as their primary care source, and the taxpayers eating the bill, would it not be more cost effective to sell health insurance policies, public option or otherwise, to undocumented aliens and thereby cut the cost to taxpayers?

    Why have we, on all sides, simply conceded without question the assumption that undocumented aliens should not have health coverage?

    • CStanley

      If part of the problem is people using emergency rooms as their primary care source, and the taxpayers eating the bill, would it not be more cost effective to sell health insurance policies, public option or otherwise, to undocumented aliens and thereby cut the cost to taxpayers?

      Studies show that it would not be more cost effective, tidbits. Even though each ER visit certainly costs a lot more than routine preventative healthcare by PCPs (and the cost of health insurance to cover that kind of healthcare), the overall costs aren’t less to do the latter for the entire group of people as compared to the small fraction who end up in the ER. Plus, many ER visits are due to trauma, not preventable illness, so those costs are a wash either way if the visit is funded through compensating the hospital directly or via a publicly funded insurance policy.

      • tidbits

        CS – Thanks. I agree with much of what you say. My point is to open a discussion on the subject rather than simply conceding an assumption. I’d actually like to hear from others, both sides, on this. Maybe we could learn something. Any liberals listening…I feel a little uncomfortable trying to make your point for you.

        By the way, I think there is another questionable assumption in your argument, namely that undocumented aliens would all be on the dole when it comes to health insurance. I’m not sure that’s true. The majority of undocumented aliens, being hard working and earning a living, might be able to afford to pay for their [mandated] insurance, thereby offsetting some of the cost of those “citizens” who would be on the dole. Of course, I have no authority whatsoever for that assertion. Just throwin’ it out there.

      • HemmD

        CS

        You’ve confused me,
        “Studies show that it would not be more cost effective, tidbits.”

        Tidbits did say sell insurance policies, not give them away or even help pay for those policies.
        Your stats may demonstrate higher cost to cover illegals via public funds, but if they buy them, they buy them, not us.

        • CStanley

          I may have misunderstood tidbits but when he said:
          Why not cover undocumented aliens?
          I assumed he meant why not cover them in the sense of subsidizing policies for them. That seemed to be the gist of the argument (which I realize he raised simply as a question, not necessarily advocating for it) because he raised the question of whether it would be more cost effective and at least I inferred that to mean, more cost effective for taxpayers to pay on the front end for insurance instead of on the back end for treatment in the ER.

          And yes, he did say sell insurance policies, but this entire reform plan is about selling policies but also subsidizing them- and obviously the reason that Obama had to address the issue at all is that most people do not support taxpayer subsidies for health insurance for those who aren’t American citizens.

          • HemmD

            CS

            No problem, I was just making sure I understood your stats. Wouldn’t insistence that employers verify worker status via SAFE solve a majority of this issue?

            Couple that with strong penalties for employer fraud, and the twelve million would either be out of work or verified? It seems this is the only realistic way to address this.

            Health care is as good a place to start to resolve this problem of an undocumented workforce. It’s like GD said earlier about an illegal who presents at the ER, treat them and send them back home.

          • CStanley

            Wouldn’t insistence that employers verify worker status via SAFE solve a majority of this issue?Yeah, but that’s what the GOP amendments said which the Dems voted down. I think I saw (skimming through threads, haven’t had much time to read all today) a discussion about that where you may have been saying that was unnecessary because it’s redundant, since all federal benefits default to that requirement. The thing is though that when the Congressional Research Service evaluated the bill they said that the bill explicitly authorizes the Health Services Commissioner (I think that’s what the post is titled) to decide on how verification would be done- so it’s not actually going to automatically fall under the SAFE guidelines. Thus the need for an amendment if we’re to really know that SAFE will be followed for this.Here’s what CRS said:

            The House Ways & Means Committee had the opportunity to include language that would have barred illegal aliens from enrolling in the proposed public option or receiving the affordability credits, but chose not to. An amendment offered by Rep. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) would have applied the same eligibility verification procedures for coverage under H.R. 3200 that have been used for years to prove eligibility for Medicaid. That amendment was rejected by a party-line vote.


            It’s like GD said earlier about an illegal who presents at the ER, treat them and send them back home.
            Sure, if that were really how it happens- but isn’t that the point of sanctuary cities, that they refuse to check status because they don’t want to discourage people from coming in for treatment if they need it? There are no easy answers, really. We need immigration reform, and then enforcement. Let a reasonable number of law abiding people who want to stay become citizens, and deport the rest and police the border.

          • HemmD

            It’s redundant because the SAFE program itself states it is to be used in all government contracts and specifically list all insurance as one of the “contacts” that must employ it. I quoted that in another thread.

          • CStanley

            Yes, I know that you stated that yesterday, although I only had time to skim that thread. Do you happen to remember what post it was under, or do you know what source you were quoting?

            What I’m wondering is why the Congressional Research Service would have determined that SAVE doesn’t automatically apply to the bill as written, if your information is correct. Something isn’t adding up there.

            Aside from who is right or wrong and whether or not it’s redundant, don’t you think there’s something odd about voting down an amendment that would provide extra assurance even if it is redundant? I mean come on, what, the Dems are worried about making the bill 1021 pages instead of 1019 or something? I’m pretty sure that redundancies like that are used all the time in legislation, just for legal clarification and to help prevent legal challenges or loopholes.

          • HemmD

            CS

            http://www.ailc.com/services/SAVE.htm

            Here’s what I used.

          • HemmD

            CS

            Sorry
            Additional link discussing what programs are required to use SAVE.

            http://www.eeoguidance.com/eeoguidance/federalcontractor.asp

  • Leonidas

    Why not cover undocumented aliens? Why should taxpayers be paying for them getting medical services at all? I know it sounds harsh, but if they couldn’t get treatment they might not want to come into our country illegally in the the first place. Why should the tax money of citizens be used at all for the benefit of these lawbreakers? Why reward criminal behavior?

    • tidbits

      Leonidas – I’ll answer your question as politely as I can. The vast majority of undocumented aliens are here because a) they were impoverished and b) because we entice them in order to satiate our lust for low cost labor. They are here, they will remain. It does us no long term good to have 12 million plus living among us who lack access to adequate health care. The diseases they contract spread to “us” and our children; viruses and bacteria do not discriminate the way we humans do.

      I subscribe to three papers, one extemely right wing. In a recent Letter to the Editor, one of the far right readers suggested that people not give food to food banks because they might in turn give it to hungry “illegal aliens”. Should we starve them as well as make adequate healthcare unavailable?

      We entice them to come as our cheap labor source then decry that they should eat, have access to medicine or speak their native language. Go figure.

      But I sincerely thank you for at least engaging the discussion instead of just “assuming” they should be denied care.

    • StockBoySF

      Leonidas, “Why should taxpayers be paying for them getting medical services at all? I know it sounds harsh, but if they couldn’t get treatment they might not want to come into our country illegally in the the first place. Why should the tax money of citizens be used at all for the benefit of these lawbreakers? Why reward criminal behavior?”

      People seek treatment for injury in emergency rooms all the time for many reasons. The next time you’re in an acident and at death’s doorstep I’m sure you’d appreciate it if the doctors verified your insurance coverage and also verified if you were here illegally. Good luck suing the doctors for not saving your life once you’re dead.

      Bottom line: doctors are in the business of saving patients, not acting as police and determing whether someone is worthy enough to receive treatment. Someone (us taxpayers) has to pay (as we currently do) for that treatment when there is no insurance coverage.

  • DLS

    “Why not cover undocumented aliens?”

    The more Democratic voters, the better! Oh, ahem, to prevent accidental spread of disease — sorry.

    [grin]

  • DLS

    “Why should taxpayers be paying for them getting medical services at all?”

    Some say taxpayers should be paying for them getting Social Security, too.

  • DLS

    “Is one remark said in the heat of a moment enough to make Joe Wilson a stereotype as in ‘People like Wilson’?”

    No, obviously. It’s just the latest excuse for stereotyping, dishonesty, and bottom-feeding that was predicted the instant it happened.

  • DLS

    “We entice them to come as our cheap labor source ”

    This is why the GOP (think “big business interests”) will oppose buy-more-votes phony Democratic and liberal-to-radical “immigration reform” (“sanctuary movement on steroids”), but itself tends to avoid seeking truly substantial reform. That would include tougher border seals and use of the military along the border, as well as employer sanctions and deportations, and so on.

  • DdW

    “‘Is one remark said in the heat of a moment enough to make Joe Wilson a stereotype as in ‘People like Wilson’?'”

    “No, obviously. It’s just the latest excuse for stereotyping, dishonesty, and bottom-feeding that was predicted the instant it happened”

    Please read:

    “Flashback: Rep. Wilson Also Had To Apologize After Attacking Strom Thurmond’s Illegitimate Daughter” at http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2009/09/you-lie-not-the-first-time-rep-wilsons-emotions-got-the-best-of-him.php

    Introductory Paragraph:

    Last night, Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) issued an apology — “I let my emotions get the best of me when listening to the President’s remarks” — and called the White House after heckling Obama during his nationally televised health care speech.

    That’s the first time most Americans heard of Congressman Wilson, but it’s not, it turns out, the first time Wilson’s emotions got the best of him and he was forced to apologize.

  • CStanley

    By the way, I think there is another questionable assumption in your argument, namely that undocumented aliens would all be on the dole when it comes to health insurance.

    I didn’t actually mean to argue that point, except that I was sort of going along with the argument that I thought you were making. I read your initial comment as though we were assuming that we might just as well pay for insurance for all who lack it rather than pay for their care in the ER, and I was pointing out that the former is more costly than the latter.

    I don’t know whether or not a significant portion of illegal aliens would have the wherewithal to pay for insurance. Might be true, might not…I just don’t know. But I’d think that anyone who went to an ER and sought charity care would probably be an individual who lacked insurance, and then I guess the only question would be whether or not they lacked it because they couldn’t afford it or if there were some other reason that they hadn’t obtained it.

  • casualobserver

    Just what assumption is it that is “being conceded”?

    I think Obama was more than clear and emphatic……his proposals would not extend to illegal immigrants. Therefore, am I miscontruing the English language to think that this means that whatever form of healthcare illegal immigrants are accessing now will remain unchanged by Obama’s proposals?

    And, as cstanley astutely realizes in another thread, what new cheap private policy will they now buy that they didn’t buy before, especially now since those private policies must now be priced to take on pre-existing conditions, mammograms, colonoscopies and limited out of pocket maximums?

    If Obama declined to change the cost model of illegal immigrant care and made it impossible to design some cheaper form of private coverage, why are you changing the subject?

    Rather than hypothesize some new set of policies, I thought the directive from Obama was to get to work on drafting up the legislation that followed his proposals.

    • tidbits

      CO – I thought Obama said he would welcome ideas to improve his proposal. Btw, and perhaps changing the subject again, I don’t support any proposal that mandates what we have to buy.The purpose for the question I originally asked was to question an assumption, something I believe to be a valuable exercise in any discussion, though I will admit to being more than a little disturbed that we entice undocumented workers to come here and then treat them to assumed vilification when they take us up on the offer.

      • casualobserver

        Ok, since I now understand you are not in favor of mandated coverage, we can use the illegal alien issue to readily deep six any chance of Obamacare passage! Obama knows that and that is why he signaled the minions in no uncertain terms last night.

        The ER cost load is there and it is partially shifted to provider overhead rates and partially absorb by the federal subsidy passed in ’05. However, it is already accounted for in the system and I for one do not believe you will achieve an overall decline in total costs with an attempt to swap illegal’s severity costs (ER costs) for an increase in frequency costs (normal wellcare) for that population. Illegals won’t conduct themselves that way.

        I don’t share your philosophy that one person’s life is uncontrollably controlled by another…..I came back from Vietnam with $68, a shattered kneecap and two year’s of college under my belt. Everything I have since came via W2 or K-1 earnings. If I can do it, I expect everyone else to do the same.

        • tidbits

          Geez, I was just going to click “like” on your comment and go away, but have to ask. Where in the world did you come up with the idea that my philosophy is “that one person’s life is uncontrollably controlled by another”? People are controlled because they choose to be controlled. The reason I oppose mandates on citizens Is because I believe precisely the opposite…that people’s lives should not be uncontrollably controlled. That I believe undocumented workers should be treated fairly, and I do, does not mean that I am a socialist or a pre-determinist.

  • DLS

    “I thought Obama said he would welcome [Democratic] ideas to improve his proposal.”

    Clarified.

    That Republicans might be listened to, nominally, was a mere formality to appear “bi-partisan.”

    • tidbits

      DLS – Thanks for the “clarification”. I didn’t realize Obama’s remarks only applied to Democratic ideas. Since: a) I am not a Democrat and b) didn’t vote for Obama, guess my suggestions will not be considered by the WH. Now that I know that approach didn’t work, I’ll just rely on silly old freedom of speech to justify my eccentric ramblings.

  • DLS

    “Please read:”

    “Town hall” (or “town hell”) “theme”

  • EEllis

    When Dems prevent anything being added to confirm status when applying, it is not unreasonable to think that the public will bear some cost from undocumented workers. You can say something is illegal but if you have absolutely no way to check or enforce…………

  • DLS

    “Thanks for the ‘clarification'”

    No problem. Also, don’t be surprised by what may conceivably happen sometime soon. Just as Obama made an address to Congress and the nation under special circumstances (health care damage control and recovery-related appeals), so it could be with a “working vacation” (unlike the kind of vacation Bush was scolded for having, say, either in Crawford or in Washington) at Camp David sometime soon. Why not? Bring Max Baucus, Harry Reid, Nanci Pelosi, Barney Frank, and other prominent House and Senate Democrats and craft legislation or most of it over a weekend or a week’s time. Maybe invite “acceptable” Republicans like Olympia Snowe, but otherwise, there would not be any Republicans allowed.

  • Leonidas

    People seek treatment for injury in emergency rooms all the time for many reasons. The next time you’re in an acident and at death’s doorstep I’m sure you’d appreciate it if the doctors verified your insurance coverage and also verified if you were here illegally. Good luck suing the doctors for not saving your life once you’re dead.

    That is simply not the case as EMTALA laws still apply.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emergency_Medical_Treatment_and_Active_Labor_Act

    The Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, EMTALA) is a United States Act of Congress passed in 1986 as part of the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act. It requires hospitals and ambulance services to provide care to anyone needing emergency treatment regardless of citizenship, legal status or ability to pay. There are no reimbursement provisions. As a result of the act, patients needing emergency treatment can be discharged only under their own informed consent or when their condition requires transfer to a hospital better equipped to administer the treatment.EMTALA applies to “participating hospitals”, i.e., those that accept payment from the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the Medicare program. However, in practical terms, EMTALA applies to virtually all hospitals in the U.S., with the exception of the Shriners Hospitals for Children, Indian Health Service hospitals, and Veterans Affairs hospitals.

  • StockBoySF

    Leonidas, “That is simply not the case as EMTALA laws still apply.”

    Yes, I know doctors must treat patients. That’s my point. My original comment, which you took part of out of context was in response to this comment of yours:

    “Why should taxpayers be paying for them getting medical services at all? I know it sounds harsh, but if they couldn’t get treatment they might not want to come into our country illegally in the the first place. Why should the tax money of citizens be used at all for the benefit of these lawbreakers? Why reward criminal behavior?”

    My point is why should doctors also be police (as you want) and determine who is worthy enough for medical treatment? If I’m dying I don’t want my doctor to verify my citizenship or insurance status. But I guess that’s the difference between conservatives and liberals.

    Conservatives and people like you want doctors to act as police and deny medical attention to someone unless they can prove the actions are not as a result of being here illegally or of some other criminal behavior.

    If you are dying I’m sure you’d be more than happy to wait for treatment while the hospital verified your insurance and citizenship status. That’s exactly what you’re proposing in your statement.

    You (and everyone else who believes this) ought to be ashamed for wanting to deny patients medical treatment. There is very little room in this world for people with a lack of compassion, and there’s absolutely no place in this world for people like you who actually want to control what doctors do and make them deny medical treatment to the sick and dying simply because you do not think these people are deserving of treatment, people you’ve never even met.

    I am sick to death of compassionate conservatives who are anything but compassionate. From the Merriam Webster online dictionary the definition of compassion (and take note, all you conservatives) is: “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.”

    Today’s compassionate conservatives have only created stress in others and support the killing of people, even if the people who are killed or tortured are innocent. This somehow seems fine as long as they are not citizens of this country. And people like you don’t even want to provide medical services to the ill unless you deem them worthy to receive such treatment, in this case they have to be in this country legally and have insurance.

    The mighty Roman Empire may have fallen for many reasons, including decadence but our country is declining because of this utter disregard for other humans. No wonder the country is in this state when pastors actually preach hate from the pulpit.

  • CStanley

    I guess I’m not seeing what you see as proof- there’s a lot of language there about exceptions, and there’s not enough detail about what the exceptions are. In light of that, I’m certainly more inclined to go with the CRS interpretation that the bill as written doesn’t prevent illegals from accessing the newly created programs since it doesn’t specify that the administrators of the program will be required to use the SAVE database.

    I think a more logical argument to the concerns about illegals using the system is that many of them wouldn’t be willing to risk exposure by applying for benefits- but that still doesn’t explain why the amendments were thrown out.