Paul Greenberg

One of the most abused words in today's political rhetoric has to be "lie." It's used to cover everything from an innocent misstatement to a broken promise to a misleading phrase.

By now the strict definition of lie -- a conscious, deliberate falsehood -- is almost forgotten, the word is so over-used. Certainly in politics. For it's no longer enough for partisans to say an opponent is wrong or misleading or exaggerating or even being disingenuous. He's got to be lying.

A perfect case in point, among so many, comes from an outfit called PolitiFact, which claims to be in the business of fact-checking in politics. Or is it just expressing its political views under the guise of impartial analysis?

You decide. It helps to note that PolitiFact has decided that last year's "lie of the year" was any reference to ObamaCare as "a government takeover of health care."

There are facts and there are PolitiFacts, and the twain may never meet. For it seems as if every day brings a new revelation about what-all is or isn't in that 2,000-page horse-choker of a bill commonly known as Obamacare. Or in the plethora of government regulations flowing from it.

If all this verbiage doesn't add up to a government takeover, could we at least agree it's a government makeover of American health care? It certainly feels like it. Here's a recent example: A 136-page notice from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services informed state governments that from now on the feds will be the ones who decide what's "reasonable" or "unreasonable" to charge for health insurance.

Now this may sound like a government takeover to simple types like you and me, but not to the masterminds at PolitiFact, who say talk about a takeover "conjures (up) a European approach (in which) the government owns the hospitals and the doctors are public employees."

But few government takeovers in this country's history would qualify as such under PolitiFact's demanding definition, not even Harry Truman's seizure of the steel mills in 1952. For that industry remained in private hands. Technically. The government was just going to set wages and prices and policies in the steel industry, that's all. Much the same way ObamaCare is going to set the price of health insurance and reimbursement rates for medical services.

Under the coming makeover/takeover of health care in this country, government will also decide which medical procedures will be covered under the new system and which won't be. And, oh, yes, health insurance will be made mandatory. At least for some of us, since the administration keeps handing out waivers.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.