PolitiFact Flip Flops on Republican Role with Department of Education

In an article released yesterday by PolitiFact of Texas, the editors of PolitiFact managed to flip-flop on their own determination from five years ago regarding the Republican Party’s role in the doubling of the size of the Department of Education. The article is remarkably factual, given that it makes plain PolitiFact’s duplicity. It even properly credits Ron Paul’s campaign manager, Jesse Benton, who scoffed, “…you are pathetic. You are about to contradict something that PolitiFact (al)ready fact checked. Why don’(t) you get a life?”

What’s Benton getting all bent out of shape about? Well, in 2007, Ron Paul made the comment:

“It used to be the policy of the Republican Party to get rid of the Department of Education. We finally get in charge and a chance to do something, so we double the size of the Department of Education.”

PolitiFact at that time rated the statement as true. But this past week when Charlie Rose of CBS asked Paul to comment on the fact that conservatives have failed to choose a common candidate as an alternative to Mitt Romney, Paul replied:

“Yeah, but what if you coalesce with big spending and you elect somebody like that and you do the big spending? This is what we’ve done. When we’ve had the House and the Senate and the presidency, we coalesced, and we increased the (national) debt, and we increased the spending, we doubled the size of the Department of Education, we passed (the) No Child Left Behind (Act), we passed Sarbanes Oxley. Why should we coalesce behind conservatives who aren’t conservative? They’re just big government conservatives. That’s why there’s frustration out there. That’s why people have started the tea party movement. So I don’t know why people don’t understand this.”

This is where things get really screwy. In response to Paul’s latest comment, PolitiFact now claims that the Republicans didn’t double the size of the Department of Education, that they only increased it by 60%, and that the Democrats are responsible for the rest. How did they accomplish this sleight-of-hand? They changed their way of measuring the increase. How well they’ve learned from their big government masters! If you don’t like what the statistics tell you, change the statistics. Or to put it another way, “figures never lie, but liars figure”, a quote sometimes attributed to Samuel Butler.

PolitiFact also quotes David Dunn who was chief of staff to Bush’s secretary of education as saying, “we never felt like we doubled spending” on the department. “We knew spending increased significantly. We were proud of that.”

Oh, well that makes it all better then, doesn’t it? As long as the Bush administration felt they didn’t double spending, then they really didn’t do it, right? For this reason, PolitiFact now rates Ron Paul’s statement as half true, rather than true. It’s amazing what a difference five years makes to PolitiFact when to comes to determining the truth.

PolitiFact is pathetic for claiming to be holding politicians responsible for what they say, when they themselves flip-flop on the “truths” about which they claim to report. It makes it difficult to take PolitiFact seriously from now on. After all, how many other less-well-publicized statistic-bending schemes has PolitiFact used to distort the apparent truth or falsehood of what politicians have said?

And what about the fact that the Republicans supposedly opposed the Department of Education in the first place, but drove up spending on it once they had full control of the government? Why doesn’t PolitiFact consider it important that the Republicans did not decrease spending on the department or even eliminate it all together? As Benton reminded PolitiFact, “It used to be the policy of the Republican Party to get rid of the Department of Education. We finally get in charge and a chance to do something, so we double the size of the Department of Education.” Too bad PolitiFact doesn’t really care about that!


Walt Thiessen

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