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And still four more Pinocchios for Bachmann

bachmann cpac speech photo
REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Rep. Michele Bachmann's CPAC speech earned her two days of attention from Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler.

The Washington Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, apologized in advance for going after U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann two days in a row (and both for statements in the speech she made to CPAC on Saturday. (I wrote about the first fact-check yesterday.)

But, for the second day in a row, Kessler assigns Bachmann’s statement a rating of “Four Pinocchios,” the most untruthful rating he uses.

This time it’s Bachmann’s assertion that of every dollar that the government supposedly spends to help the poor, as she said:

70 cents of that dollar that's supposed to go to the poor doesn't. It actually goes to benefit the bureaucrats in Washington, D.C. — 70 cents on the dollar. That's how the president's caring works in practice. So $3 in food stamps for the needy, $7 in salaries and pensions for the bureaucrats who are supposed to be taking care of the poor. So with all due respect, I ask you, how does this show that our president cares about the poor?

As usual, Bachmann’s office wouldn’t respond to Kessler’s requests for backup. He was able to find a couple of previous statements by conservatives that appear to be the likely sources for Bachmann’s statement, except that she didn’t cite them accurately.

For example, Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute wrote a book advocating less reliance on government to help the poor and more on private charity. Tanner referred to a statement by another righty scholar who claimed that 70 cents of every dollar spent by government goes “not to poor people but to government bureaucrats and others who serve the poor.” Tanner, because he is an honest and careful scholar, attached a footnote explaining what that "others who serve the poor" means. Tanner's footnote: “It is important to note that the 70 percent figure is not solely government administrative overhead. That figure also includes government payments to the non-poor on behalf of the poor. For example, Medicaid payments go to doctors. Housing subsidies are frequently paid directly to landlords.”

Oh, OK, so when Medicaid pays the fee of a doctor who treated a poor person, no money goes into the poor person’s pocket. And when the government pays rent so a poor person has a place to live, the money doesn’t pass through the poor person’s hands. Now I get it. In fact, if you think about it, most of what the government does for the poor does not consist of handing over money.

But Bachmann really blew it by using food stamps as her example because, Kessler discovered, that’s one particularly lean anti-poverty program in which “less than 6 percent of the program is spent on administrative costs.”

OK, I’m sure that to Bachmann’s admirers, the fact-checking industry is just part of the vast left-wing conspiracy to destroy her. Maybe so, although I’m skeptical. But does she need to make it so easy by showing such constant reckless disregard for the accuracy of her facts?

The full Kessler fact-check is here.

Video of the full 16-minute Bachmann CPAC speech (the overall theme of which is that while liberal Democrats pretend to care about the less fortunate, they are frauds and it’s the CPACers and conservatives generally who really care ) is here.

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Comments (10)

Facts and the Bachmannistas

As we have seen, members of the Bachmann cult are now able to holler "Benghazi!!!!" at any question of their leader's accuracy. This is a more efficient upgrade from "Shariah law" or "Agenda 21" (fewer syllables=easier to remember).

I think she was confused and

I think she was confused and really thinking of the civilian contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Look how much it cost to help the poor people in those countries.


I'm beginning to think she honestly has no feeling for what "truth" might actually be. She just throws stuff out there and if she gets enough gullible people to bite on it, it becomes part of her "truth." Facts be damned!

Rep. Michelle Bachmann's Supporters

will believe her, no matter how far from the truth her rhetoric strays.

Meanwhile, Ms. Bachmann, being the self-professed devout Christians she is, nevertheless seems to believe she has a special dispensation which gets her out of the commandment, "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor."

I suspect that she's wrong about that.

She continues to make us all look....


Look at this from CNN.

Maybe they will cease using her as a spokesperson.

Seriously, though.A person

Seriously, though.

A person who serves merely as a conduit for dubious information is obviously unsuited for governing.

If she lacks the discernment to evaluate in the most rudimentary fashion the truthfulness of what she reads or hears, she is only a dupe for the people who are feeding her these things.

If she is in a position to actually find out what the actual facts are (House member? Intelligence Committee?), and doesn't bother to, she is too lazy to be your representative.

You can read the same garbage everyday on the web--what do you need her for?

Cosmetic effects

Comments above are to the point, and Mrs. Bachmann's difficulty in distinguishing fiction from reality have been well-documented, but what stuck me equally strongly about her latest foray into public speaking was how amazingly UNflattering was the lighting at that CPAC event. She looks positively green in the MinnPost photo. Not a good color for humans in general, and especially when one is engaged in public speaking that attempts to appear persuasive.


and she sits on the House Intelligence committee. I could only imagine those closed door meetings and her comments that probably turn a few heads.

Handing over money

"In fact, if you think about it, most of what the government does for the poor does not consist of handing over money".

Except for the money handed over to the landlord and doctor that Mr. Kessler mentioned just in front of this statement. Fact check!

I wish someone would ask...

It's on my list of things to ask if I ever meet Bachmann, but someone else could ask: "When did dishonesty and deception become Christian virtues?" Does Jesus really want Republicans to win elections and policy debates with lies and deception instead of the truth? Or has the truth just become irrelevant for these Christians? Is it just a mean to an end kind of thing?