The competition was stiff and the nominees were from both sides of the political aisle, but the nonpartisan judges at PolitiFact have decided that the claim from conservatives that President Obama and his supporters are pushing for a "government takeover of health care" was the campaign 2010 "lie of the year."
PolitiFact editor Bill Adair told Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep that the charge is "just ridiculously false ... the plan relies on private insurance companies (and) in fact private insurance companies are actually going to end up with more business because of the law. ... Yet it was a refrain we heard again and again. It was definitely the most pervasive falsehood of the year."
Listen to the clip below from their conversation. As you'll hear, Bill says "there's no question (the health care overhaul) increases government regulation. There's no question ... that there is a mandate for individuals to have health coverage. But the phrase 'government takeover' suggests a Canadian or British-style system where the government runs the hospitals (and) employs the doctors. ... But it is not going to be a government takeover":
Here's one of the many ads that PolitiFact says earned a "pants on fire" rating for making the "government takeover" claim. It was from the campaign of Republican Rebecca Kleefisch, who was elected to be lieutenant governor of Wisconsin:
The other finalists for PolitiFact's lie of the year "award" included Democrat Rep. Charles Rangel's claim that an ethics report had exonerated him from wrong-doing and Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann's claim that President Obama's trip to India would cost $200 million a day.
PolitiFact and NPR teamed up during the campaign on The Message Machine, where we fact-checked the 2010 ads.