WSJ Writer Defends "Government Takeover Of Health Care" Lie; Wins Pulitzer Prize

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

This week, Joseph Rago won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in honor of the far-right editorials he wrote last year in the Wall Street Journal; editorials that condemned Obama's health care reform in every conceivable manner, often wallowing in plain fear mongering.

During his obsessive attack on health care reform, Rago claimed the initiative would destroy U.S. health care, "accelerates the march toward a totally state-driven system," and yes, Rago warned "medicine will be rationed by politics."

That's just a small taste of Rago's relentlessly shrill attacks from last year; not the serious tone often associated with winning the prestigious Pulitzer Prize.

What's telling about the award though, was that among the entries that won him the Pulitzer was a December effort in which Rago actually defending the widely debunked lie that the Obama health care reform equaled "government takeover of health care"; that the federal government would be in total control of health care in this county, the way the government is in socialist countries. Rago insisted the lie was true after PolitiFact not only deemed the claim to be false, but also awarded the whopper its "Lie of Year" title last December.

Here's what PolitiFact wrote:

PolitiFact reporters have studied the 906-page bill and interviewed independent health care experts. We have concluded it is inaccurate to call the plan a government takeover because it relies largely on the existing system of health coverage provided by employers.

And:

FactCheck.org, an independent fact-checking group run by the University of Pennsylvania, has debunked it several times, calling it one of the "whoppers" about health care and saying the reform plan is neither "government-run" nor a "government takeover."

Noting that increased government regulation of health care is not the same thing as a "takeover," PolitiFact made this point:

Consider some analogies about strict government regulation. The Federal Aviation Administration imposes detailed rules on airlines. State laws require drivers to have car insurance. Regulators tell electric utilities what they can charge. Yet that heavy regulation is not described as a government takeover.

In his Pulitzer Prize-winning rebuttal last year, Rago wrote that the "government takeover" claim was true. (Or it could be true.) And why was it true? Because Rago, completely ignoring PolitiFact's point about the FDA, claimed health care reform included new government regulations, which meant it was the same as the government taking over the health care industry in America. In other words, Obama health care reform = government takeover of health care because Rago said so.

And for that kind of sterling logic and insight, Rago won the Pulitzer Prize.

Noted.

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