Marvin Olasky
Say you’re driving along on Friday morning, Aug. 31, and hear good ol’ National Public Radio telling us what’s what. Host Jeremy Hobson tells us that a Mitt Romney ad about welfare “has been called false by independent fact-checkers.” He then says correspondent Chris Farrell will “join us now for a little history lesson.”

“Good,” you might say: “I like history.”

Hobson says, “Chris, let’s start with the facts here.”

“Good,” you might say: “I like facts.”

Hobson then gets to the point: “So what about this charge that President Obama came in and weakened the work requirement for welfare?”

Your hands grip the steering wheel. Farrell says, “OK, let me make it really simple, Jeremy: The answer to that is no.” Farrell then quotes “all these political fact-checkers” who say Romney is wrong to charge that Barack Obama is weakening the work requirements for welfare.

The facts, according to Farrell: Obama is seeking “a better way to get welfare recipients into jobs” by having “the states acting as laboratories of innovation.” Farrell says Romney is criticizing that because “it’s politics at play. Not economics, and not facts.”

“Whew!” you might say. “I’m glad he cleared that up. Isn’t it great to have neutral fact-checkers who blow the whistle on partisan claims?”

Not exactly. The problem is that PolitiFact.com, The Fact Checker, and a host of others that hand out “Four Pinocchios” or “Pants on Fire” awards have very long noses and very burnt buttocks. They are partisans posing as neutralists.

For example, on this work/welfare question, here’s the big fact the fact-checkers missed: The Obama administration will let liberal state welfare officials water down work requirements as long as they game the system to show a pretend movement from welfare to work.

Fact-checkers concluded that Obama was not weakening the work requirement because states to gain flexibility would have to increase the number of people going from welfare to work by 20 percent. But states can do that by keeping better records of job attainment and by enticing more people to go onto welfare, which will boost the number of those leaving it. And if those two approaches don’t work, never fear: States do not need to meet the 20 percent standard, but merely “demonstrate clear progress toward the goal.”

Marvin Olasky

Marvin Olasky is editor-in-chief of the national news magazine World. For additional commentary by Marvin Olasky, visit www.worldmag.com.
 
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