Email Outreach to Allison Colburn, Louis Jacobson, Angie Holan and Aaron Sharockman

(Post-publication update note: We published this with no title. We added the title promptly)

Email outreach to PolitiFact’s Allison Colburn, Louis Jacobson, Angie Holan and Aaron Sharockman, Sent March 29, 2018.

Dear PolitiFact folks,

As most of you are probably aware, PolitiFact rated charges the ACA cut Medicare as “Half True” or worse (mostly worse, were you to tell the truth about your past ratings).

Fact checkers have now been enlightened in the age of Trump, and are evidently able to tell that reductions to the growth of programs like Medicaid and Medicare are rightly termed cuts without the need for scare quotes.

The inconsistency isn’t pretty, but it’s made worse when fact checkers like PolitiFact no longer see the importance of distinguishing between cuts to a projected future baseline and cuts compared to present spending.

That’s where the Trump-O-Meter comes in.

Louis Jacobson:

Over 10 years, Trump’s 2019 budget proposal says it would cut Medicare spending by a cumulative $236 billion, including by reductions in “waste” and “fraud” and by changing the way drugs are priced and paid for in the program.

Is that a cut relative to current levels or a cut to future growth? Does it matter now like it did during the previous administration?

Jacobson again:

The budget proposal does call for $236 billion in Medicare reductions, which would contradict Trump’s campaign promise.

Are those reductions to current levels or reductions to a future spending baseline? Is it now okay to leave it unclear, like Republican critics of the ACA once did (“False” “Mostly False” “Half True”)?

Not to worry! The earlier Trump-O-Meter entry by Allison Colburn clarifies things.


The 2018 White House budget proposal released in May left Medicare benefits largely untouched compared with Medicaid, which would see a more than $600 billion decrease over 10 years compared to current spending levels. Still, Medicare spending would decrease by more than $50 billion in the next decade compared with current levels.

Ah. So the proposed budget cuts spending relative to current levels and not relative to a future spending baseline?

Are you completely sure about that?

As of April 4, 2018 we received no sign at all PolitiFact had acted in any way in response to our message.

Also on April 4, 2018 we forwarded the message with comments to the International Fact-Checking Network, which has said it will give the independent assessors who review annual certification applications a folder of the complaints suggesting an organization does not follow its stated policies.

In this case, we think the evidence shows, at best, PolitiFact’s cavalier attitude toward its claimed “open and honestcorrections policy.

What’s “open and honest” about a system that keeps readers in the dark about the criticisms an organization has received along with the organization’s responses to those criticisms?

We will update this item should we detect any response from PolitiFact.

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