Sunday, July 22, 2012

Apparently, There are no Facts Associated with Politifact Ohio.

The gang at Politifact rates Josh Mandel as a “Pants on Fire” liar: “Mandel issued a statement on the day of the decision asserting that Brown had voted "for what will likely go down as the biggest tax increase in history."

“What will likely go down…”. That’s tentative language about a future projection. It’s not a hard statement like “is the largest”. Technically, the numbers don’t even have to support it for it to be true – as long as the public perception is that it is the largest. 

Unfortunately for the Politifact gang, this statement cannot be categorized as a lie. It’s an estimate, or projection, if you will, about a future result. The unfortunate thing about guessing about the future is that it takes a long time to figure out who is right. And even then, there’s a difference between a liar and a bad estimate. Business Insider notes that the Obama Administration projected unemployment to be around 6% or so if we passed the stimulus bill. Current result? 8.2% plus or minus a couple of ticks. Is Politifact calling Obama a “Pants on Fire Liar”? Even now that the facts are in? 

Politifact attempts to cover their behinds by listing detailed projections / estimates that Mandel’s projection is not correct. However, these are just estimates as well. Given their best case, we’ll have to wait until 2020 or so to see who’s right on this one. 

They are even forced to concede this “And they cited a chart from showing the Affordable Care Act producing the largest tax increase since 1968 in raw dollars. In the article the chart accompanied, however, called raw dollars a "rather useless yardstick" and "a poor way to measure the size of a tax increase," because it makes no adjustment for inflation and takes no account of a population that is steadily rising.” So, it is, possibly, the largest tax increase in history.  Just not by measures that Politifact likes. 

Given that a) costs of any Government intervention in the economy are likely extremely underestimated at time of proposal, and b) the increasingly likely chance that GDP growth will not match up to official projections, it is far from certain that Mandel is that far off the mark, let alone a “pants on fire” liar. 

What was the last major government entitlement program that came in under budget for any serious length of time?

There’s certainly a lot of argument to be made that Mandel’s statement is not in line with other estimates.  One could argue that it’s more pessimistic than “expert” opinion. There are legitimate criticisms to be made about who has the better guess about future results. “Pants on Fire Liar” isn’t one of them. 

Next up, if Nancy Pelosi says that 2+2= 22, Politifact will rate it as “Mostly True”, because “actual numbers were involved.