PolitiFact's Top Ten Lies of 2011

TAMPA (2011-12-9) -

What's the biggest lie of 2011? That Republicans "want to end Medicare"? Or the stimulus "did not create a single job"?

PolitiFact has come up with its top ten list of lies for this year in preparation of naming the biggest one.

PolitiFact’s Angie Holan dissects four of the most likely contenders for us – two from Democrats, two from Republicans.

See the final results (when they are published) here.

1. A National Republican Senatorial Committee ad says stimulus created "zero jobs"

PolitiFact says “Pants on Fire.”

“Maybe it didn’t help the economy as much as its supporters would have liked," Holan said, "and the unemployment number is still somewhat grim. But we just found no question that the stimulus did create jobs.”

The NRSC says if the stimulus had worked, more people should have jobs.

But most economists say the recession was much worse than people thought it would be. Without the stimulus, unemployment would be even worse.

2. Democrats say Republicans voted to end Medicare and charge seniors $12,000.

PolitiFact says “Pants on Fire.”

“They didn’t vote to end it,” Holan said. “Republicans would like to see Medicare restructured so Americans over age 65 are given some sort of voucher or tax credit to buy insurance with.”

Some critics argue that the GOP would effectively “end Medicare” if you change it from a single-payer system to a privatized system.

“But the way this statement is portrayed, none of that nuance is conveyed. It just sounds to seniors like Republicans voted to end Medicare,” she said.

3. President Obama "went around the world and apologized for America."

PolitiFact says “Pants on Fire.”

“In no instance did we find a sincere apology in the sense of, ‘We did something wrong, we’re sorry. Please forgive us,’” Holan said.

“What we found instead was Obama saying that the United States always aspires to do better, and then depending on his audience, he might talk about how another country has fallen short.”

It may sound apologetic, but it doesn’t meet the definition of an apology, she said.

4. By advocating new requirements for voters to show ID cards at the polls, Republicans "want to literally drag us all the way back to Jim Crow laws."

PolitiFact rates this statement by Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz as “false.”

These laws usually require voters to show identification at the polls, or make sure their address is updated on registration forms before election day.

It's true the disproportionally affect minority voters, she said. And minorities are more likely to be Democrats.

But most experts say the targets of the laws are Democrats, not minorities, Holan said.

“The Jim Crow laws were race-based laws. The experts we found more persuasive said this is partisan, this is Republicans to try to make it harder for people who support Democrats to vote,” she said.

For example, Republicans are more than happy to have Herman Cain, Allen West and other conservative Republicans voting.

The laws target other groups that are Democratic-leaning too, such as young people and low-income voters.

Also, there’s a matter of degree. The new restrictions are not as harsh as Jim Crow laws, she said.

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