December 12th, 2013
07:30 PM ET
8 months ago

And the top lie of 2013 goes to...

(CNN) – It's the worst of the worst – the most fictional of statements, the flippiest of flops and most misleading of claims by U.S. political figures this year.

Fact checkers, Politifact, asked readers to rank the top lies from politicians in 2013. Here are the top four - all of which relate to President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act:

1 - Obama: "If you like your plan; You can keep your plan"

Obama's repeated promise that if you like your health care plan, you can still keep it under the Affordable Care Act leads Politifact's list with 59% of voters picking it as top lie of the year.

But it was the President’s revised pitch to the nation amid a storm of controversy over cancelled policies that earned Politifact's "pants on fire" emblem.

"What we said was - you could keep it, if it hasn't changed since the law passed," Obama said in November.

Politifact editor Angie Drobnic Holan told CNN's Jake Tapper in an interview that its team of fact check editors chose Obama's Obamacare statements because they had the most impact on the national debate.

"It's something we first flagged back in 2009. We said this is partly right - the health care law does leave in place the existing health care system but it's partly wrong because we knew back then not everybody would be able to keep their health care plan and this was the year that it was proved false as these cancellation letters when out again."

Drobnic said Politifact found 37 instances in which the President repeated that promise, without caveats.

"The original statement is partly accurate. The lie of the year is not the most strong statement - it's the most significant impact and then the excuse got the ‘pants on fire’ overall," she said.

2 - Ted Cruz: Congress gets exception to Obamacare

Runner-up is Texas conservative and tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz.

In a speech in August, Cruz said President Barack Obama "granted all of Congress an exception" to Obamacare.

Politifact rated this claim "false."

"Congress has to have insurance just like all other Americans the law actually forced them out of the federal employees plan and on to the online market places so they could experience what it's like to shop with everyone else - so, not exempt."

Cruz's press office e-mailed CNN saying the Senator's statement is "100% correct."

"The Obama administration granted Congress the ability to keep federal health subsidies to purchase Obamacare exchange plans. That's an exemption from the law that private sector firms don't get."

3 - Michele Bachmann: IRS health care database

Former Republican presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota said in May appearing on Fox News that the IRS will be "in charge" of "a huge national database" on health care.

"The IRS is not keeping people's health care records," Drobnic said.

"The only role they play is if someone gets a subsidy to help them buy insurance, the IRS will verify their income and the IRS already has that information and they know how much money you're making."

Bachmann made similar claims about the IRS and its ties to the health care law in 2011 after Obama's State of the Union address.

The tea party darling asserted that "Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that tells us which light bulbs to buy, and which may put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama's health care bill."

At the time, CNN rated her claim misleading at best as the health care bill specifically says that taxpayers who do not buy insurance won't be prosecuted because of their failure to buy insurance through the law.

4 - Ann Coulter: Docs won't accept Obamacare

Politifact rated conservative commentator Ann Coulter's claim that "No U.S.-trained doctor will accept Obamacare" a whooping "pants on fire."

Coulter made the comments in a column titled "Democrats to America: We Own the Government!" posted to her website in October.

"Experts told us this was ridiculous and nothing we could find in the law connected where doctors were trained with what kind of insurance you had," Drobnic said.

Experts, Politifact says, called the notion that there is a provision in the Affordable Care Act that bars doctors from accepting patients who bought insurance under the federal marketplace "ridiculous" and "outrageous."

CNN reached out to the people mentioned above for comment. Cruz's office was the only one to reply by the time the Lead aired at 4 p.m. ET.

CNN's Dana Davidsen contributed to this report.


Filed under: Ann Coulter • Michele Bachmann • President Obama • Ted Cruz
soundoff (118 Responses)
  1. ora pike

    had to check to make sure this was CNN reporting something negative about obama–wow, a first. What do you call someone who lies 38 times??? and that is just about OBAMACARE. IF IF IF this were good obama would not have to lie to us to sell it-that is called a con man. YOU CAN.....................

    December 12, 2013 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  2. simplyput

    Unfortunately for the public, it seems the political unit get the award. Obama dedicated the *keep your insurance, keep you doctor* over 35 times; Cruz told the truth unless you believe Propagandafact, Bachmann was talking about a tax info base, not medical data; Coulter's statements are factual, because many doctors and hospitials refuse to play ACA.
    The truth is, you can't argue with propaganda.

    December 12, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. Thomas

    The Maryland native had previously worked for two Republican House members, as well as the House Rules Committee and the Senate Republican Conference.

    December 12, 2013 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  4. Gurgyl

    It is true, when new law kicks in insurance companies by taking money from GOP–canceled insurances. Game played by GOP. Don't be stupid. ACA is a Law.

    December 12, 2013 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  5. Mr. M

    The worst lies are the lies CNN tells us.

    December 12, 2013 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  6. tom l

    This is gonna be really funny because liberals will absolutely point to the #2, #3 and #4 "lies" and gravitate to those and say something like "see! 3 out of the 4 were repub lies!"

    Howeva, if you take a glance at the percentages of where the votes went, you can add up lies 2-100 and all of those will still not come close to the #1 lie. Period. (I chuckled to myself while typing the last part of the comment, by the way)

    December 12, 2013 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  7. Luke

    what about
    1. I heard about the IRS scandal from the news.
    2. All of the lies that were told to get us into a war in syria
    shouldnt those be on the list? i think those might be a little more important than congress having healthcare

    December 12, 2013 09:08 pm at 9:08 pm |
  8. Spartacus

    "I will get to the bottom of this and punish those responsible." – Obama on four different situations.

    December 12, 2013 09:20 pm at 9:20 pm |
  9. S. B. Stein

    I guess that "death panels" were from previous years.

    December 12, 2013 09:31 pm at 9:31 pm |
  10. Juan

    1 – Obama: "If you like your plan; You can keep your plan".PERIOD.

    Man, it's sufficient and enough to shut down Obozo and Demorats for at least 30 years. The rest have nothing to do with loosing healthcare plans. Also #2 must change to

    2 – Obama: "If you like your doctors; You can keep your doctors".PERIOD

    December 12, 2013 09:33 pm at 9:33 pm |
  11. deee510

    Hahaha was this done when w.Bush said we were going to war with Iraq because they had weapons of mass destruction? thousands of dead Americans later no weapons of mass destruction found in Iraq. Only with the first black president whose trying to get Americans healthcare. Smdh

    December 12, 2013 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  12. dnokc

    Americans are slow...but they are catching on.

    December 12, 2013 09:41 pm at 9:41 pm |
  13. Tampa Tim

    I have to give Politifact a " Pants on Fire" for their dumbness. Everyone knows it was Issa's baseless witch hunts.

    December 12, 2013 09:55 pm at 9:55 pm |
  14. Robert N. constant

    By definition , for a statement to be a lie two elements are required. The first is that the statement prove to be untrue. The second is that it is said with the intent to deceive. President Obama said people could keep their heath insurance BEFORE a number of insurance companies decided to cancel policies rather than bring them into compliance with the new consumer protection standards for heath insurance. He had no way to know in advance this would happen. Did he miscalculate? Obviously. Was that a "lie"? No. Not every misstatement is a lie.
    Once again CNN proves itself to be "FOX LIGHT" going with Republican Party talking points rather with common sense or good journalism. Somebody in CNN's Newsroom must understand good English. You would never know it from this propaganda.

    December 12, 2013 10:05 pm at 10:05 pm |
  15. Robert N. constant

    For a statement to be a lie two elements are required. The first is that the statement prove to be untrue. The second is that it is said with the intent to deceive. President Obama said people could keep their heath insurance BEFORE a number of insurance companies decided to cancel policies rather than bring them into compliance with the new consumer protection standards for heath insurance. He had no way to know in advance this would happen. Did he miscalculate? Obviously. Was that a "lie"? No. Not every misstatement is a lie.

    December 12, 2013 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  16. angriono124

    My health insurance plan was cancelled. The "better" plan comes with double the deductible and a bunch of things I can't use! All this for only 170% my current premiums!!!

    Thanks, Obamacare!

    December 12, 2013 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  17. scott

    Wait a minute. If I like my plan I can't keep it? That's not what My President said is it? Really? Oh...

    December 12, 2013 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  18. HowCanYouBelieveAWordHeSaysAnymore

    It is no surprise, Obama is the Liar of the Year. But since he said it for years, shouldn't they bestow that upon him retroactively for 2012, 2011, 2010, etc.?

    December 12, 2013 10:25 pm at 10:25 pm |
  19. Just

    Their lips moved....first clue it's a lie.

    December 12, 2013 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  20. Sid

    if Coulter said they're PROHIBITED that's obviously a lie but & to say NO US-trained Dr is exaggerated but it is unquestionably true that no doctor is required to take ANY insurance & in practice the physician choices on the exchange plans are proving to be both narrow & far form the cream of the crop – I'm not Coulter fan but the author's remarks seem a lot more misleading than her...

    December 12, 2013 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  21. FrmrMrine

    Only thing is that there is nothing in the ACA that says you can't keep your insurance. All the ACA says is that insurance must meet minimum standards and provide minimum benefits. If your employer drops coverage, or your insurance company doesn't want to keep providing coverage to you at low cost, that's their doing, not the ACA's, not Obama's.

    The amusing part is that even the ACA's detractors agree that insurance should meet those minimum standards. But those standards are the excuse insurance companies are using to drop coverage they no longer want to provide. They see a golden opportunity to blame it on the guy who forced them to stop selling policies that didn't cover squat.

    December 12, 2013 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  22. Dan Bruce

    Here's a whopper even bigger than any of those: Republicans want what is best for all Americans.

    December 12, 2013 10:58 pm at 10:58 pm |
  23. Bubba

    Funny how Obama only has one of the top lies of 2013, and the Conservatives had three times as many.

    December 12, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  24. IpseCogita

    Well, that last one is only a lie because it overestimates the scale. More doctors are going private, avoiding insurance. It's a tiny percentage, but it's growing rapidly.

    December 12, 2013 11:18 pm at 11:18 pm |
  25. Puddin

    The President's statement about being able to retain your present insurance if you wish was not a lie; he didn't knowingly lie. From my viewpoint what he did was neglect to touch base with the insurance companies to see if that could be possible. That is all he is guilty of. For goodness sakes, people twist things just because they voted for Romney and his recorded 47% ruined his chances. Give the President a break. (To quote LBJ: "In your heart, you know I'm right).

    December 12, 2013 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
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